Boston gets first Vietnamese parish

Boston Vietnamese parish

Vietnamese Catholics in the Archdiocese of Boston can now celebrate the Eucharist in their native tongue with the establishment of the archdiocese’s first Vietnamese parish.

About 600 faithful filled Saint Clement Church in Medford for what auxiliary Bishop Mark O’Connell of Boston said felt like “a big celebration” with a big choir, drums and dancing.

Saint Clement Church is now a part of the Blessed Andrew Phú Yên Parish, established after decades of pleas from the Vietnamese community in Boston.

“At the Mass yesterday, I was just full of gratitude about the timing and everything,” said Father Phong Pham, who O’Connell installed as pastor on Sunday.

“I was filled with gratitude that God really answered the cry of the Vietnamese Catholics. I think this is just the perfect timing. God’s spirit and God’s hands were written all over it and on the face of the people.”

“Everyone was so, so happy,” Pham said.

O’Connell first got requests to create a Vietnamese parish in the archdiocese in 2017, less than a year after his arrival as auxiliary bishop. He didn’t take action until he got a call to attend an emergency meeting because St. Clement Parish was failing.

“I said, ‘well, the Vietnamese are looking for a parish’. I called Cardinal Seán O’Malley, and he was thrilled that there was an idea,” O’Connell recalls.

With diocesan support, O’Connell got approval from Vietnamese communities. Then he brought in Pham to ease the concerns of the pre-existing English speaking population.

There have been challenges for both the Vietnamese and English speaking communities.

The English speaking community used to have four Masses, and now they have one and a bilingual Mass. Meanwhile, the Vietnamese speaking community has to travel a distance to get to one of two Masses on Sunday morning or the bilingual Mass in the afternoon.

For those reasons, Pham said he works hard to show both communities that the “archdiocese cares about them.”

He also notes the significance of the name of the parish. Andrew Phú Yên is the first Vietnamese martyr who was executed in 1644.

“It’s just beautiful,” Pham said.




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