Happy New Year! Our seminary community welcomed back Father Christian Shiu (Class of 2018) to celebrate Mass and the Asian Lunar New Year, a very important celebration in many countries.
Father Shiu reflected on this special Mass, saying, “The Asian culture really helps us to enter even more deeply into the faith and the mysteries of the faith, giving witness to the Gospel using signs and symbols that are already familiar and close to our heart. The traditional idea of filial piety is visible in our respect for our loved ones, parents, elders – and our seminary rector and faculty.”
For our seminarians, this is an opportunity to be intentional about building fraternity, to praise God for a fresh start, and to pray for family and friends. Before Mass, everyone was reminded to take a moment to remember their parents, families, friends, benefactors, and their loved ones who have passed, as our seminarian Asian Choir, joined by two Sisters from the Lovers of the Holy ross in Vietnam, sang “Cau Cho Cha Me- Prayer for Parents,” and “Tanging Yaman.” Throughout the Mass a variety of languages – Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean, Tagalog, and English – were featured in readings, hymns, and petitions.
“The Spirit surprises us,” Father Shiu said, “God works in so many different ways — using different people, places, things, different lived experiences and cultures — to help people encounter the Lord in special and personal moments. This empowers them to also become agents of prayer, communion, and love.”
Our rector, Father John Kartje, blessed a basket of Bible verses that will serve as inspiration in the coming year, a Christian version of the traditional ritual that features quotes from Confucius.
Family members will often travel far across the country (or the world) to spend the Lunar New Year in each other’s company, and our seminarians were blessed to welcome some of their friends and family to celebrate on campus. For many seminarians, like Martin Nyberg (Pre-Theology I, Chicago), this was their first experience of the full celebration.
“The whole day was eye-opening,” he said. “We weren’t just praying in a different language, we were experiencing the importance of culture in Catholicism. I saw a new side of my fellow seminarians as they shared and celebrated this big part of who they are with the rest of us. It’s not just something that they do, it’s who they are and it involves the whole community.”
The celebration and fellowship continued in the evening, with a big table of festive foods that are only made for the Lunar New Year, traditional games, a performance by Deacon Jay Suero, and an appearance by two dancing lions.