St. Anthony Parish building grotto to honor Our Lady of La Vang
Space is tight at land-locked St. Anthony Parish in downtown Wichita. Despite that, the parish sacrificed part of a parking lot to construct a grotto in honor Our Lady of La Vang.
The Blessed Virgin appeared around 1798 to a group of persecuted Vietnamese in La Vang, Vietnam, to aid and console them.
Fr. Benjamin Nguyen, St. Anthony’s pastor, said she is as revered by the Vietnamese as is Our Lady of Guadalupe by Mexicans and other Hispanics.
“The Vietnamese parishioners expressed a desire to build a grotto for Our Lady of La Vang after I arrived seven years ago,” he said. “There was a bit of hesitancy by the parish overall because of the limited space – we don’t have room to expand.”
Instead, the parish is using part of a parking lot north of St. Elizabeth Parish Hall for the grotto.
“We’ve been raising funds for the last four or five years for this,” Fr. Nguyen said.
Simpson Construction Services will build the $180,000 grotto which is scheduled to be blessed and dedicated by Bishop Carl A. Kemme on May 21.
“All of that money comes from fundraising and donors, so the parish does not have to pay for it out of the general budget,” Father added.
The parish hopes to have an annual outdoor Mass and celebration in May at the grotto to honor Our Lady of La Vang, he said.
“The grotto is a tribute to St. Anthony parishioners for their love of Our Lady of La Vang. Wherever there is a Vietnamese community there is a very, very devout devotion to Our Lady – our Mother, in general – but especially with the Vietnamese culture.”
He added that he hopes the grotto will draw Vietnamese from the neighboring communities and towns to pray.