By Father Stephen Perzan

Special to The CS&T

PHILADELPHIA – Father Joseph Logrip, pastor of Mother of spanine Grace Parish, and newly installed regional vicar for Philadelphia-North, made a pastoral visit to St. Helena Parish in the Olney section of Philadelphia on Sunday, Oct. 26 at a special 4 p.m. Mass. The visit coincided with the 11th anniversary celebration of the establishment of the Vietnamese community at St. Helena Parish.

Eleven years ago, the growing Vietnamese community at St. Helena was served on a part-time basis by a young parochial vicar, now its pastor, Msgr. Joseph Trinh, who commuted to the parish from Visitation B.V.M in Philadelphia.

The Mass last Sunday also served as an occasion for the installation of the parish’s new Vietnamese council members. As Huan Tran, an acolyte studying for the permanent deaconate, called each member forward, Father Logrip made the sign of the cross on the forehead of each person signifying the call to the “service of leadership.”

At the conclusion of the Mass, celebrated in the Vietnamese language with reminders of Vietnamese culture sprinkled throughout, Father Logrip addressed the more than 400 attendees. In glowing terms he praised the beauty and the solemnity of the celebration, stating that this was his “first ever Vietnamese Mass.” He revealed to the onlookers that his own parents came as immigrants to this country so he understood some of the feelings that they encountered and the struggles they underwent to become successful and productive citizens.

Addressing the youth who had participated in the Mass by performing a traditional flower dance, Father Logrip said, “I want to thank you for you have taught me something today. You have shown me the love you have for your faith and how holy is your culture. I mean it. Your culture is holy!”

Father Logrip went on to say that it is not important what language you speak, but what is important is the language of your heart. He also urged young people to reach out to the call that God may have for them to the priesthood and religious life. “We need you,” he said. “The Church needs you, God needs you.”

At the conclusion of the vicar’s address, the Vietnamese community presented him with a gift of flowers. Following the Mass Father Logrip visited with the community in the school hall where there was music, socializing and Vietnamese food.

Father Stephen Perzan is the parochial vicar at St. Helen Parish in Philadelphia.