The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

August 3, 2012

Our View: Welcome visitors

The Joplin Globe

— They come to Carthage each year to pray.

And for most, the triple-digit temperatures are not a factor in their decisions on whether to make the annual pilgrimage. After all, some of the older among them endured far worse.

“We feel that as Catholics, we worship God first and, secondly, we help people with Catholic norms,” Nghi Nguyen told the Globe. “That’s what I want to do, to come here so I can pray and help people.”

Tens of thousands of Vietnamese Catholics arrived earlier this week for the annual Marian Days festival and will stay on the grounds of the Congregation of the Mother Co-Redemptrix.

Some 37 years after the fall of Saigon and the end of the Vietnam War, this group of faithful still gathers. While the purpose is to pay tribute to the Virgin Mary, it’s also a family reunion.

There are some who entered America as “boat people.” They were refugees who were picked up by American cargo boats. The unused seminary in Carthage became home for a number of the Catholic priests. It now is a familiar part of the Carthage community.

Today, generations of Vietnamese Catholics — many who have only known the United States as their home — are our guests for a week.

We admire their deep convictions and the way they have managed to keep their own traditions, yet adapt to a country that took them in when they had no place else to go.

The area has an opportunity today and Saturday to visit a world that’s different, yet uniquely all ours.

We are pleased that they have continued to return year after year.