Oblate Associates and Oblates Visit Hmong Community in St. Paul

St. Paul, MN

Reporting and Photos provided by Kou Ly, Oblate Associate, with Fr. Harry Winter, OMI

Recently, Oblate Fathers Harry Winter and Lucien Bouchard made a trip to St. Paul, MN, from their home in Tewksbury, MA in order to visit with the community of Hmong that they have known for many years. The following photos and text was provided by a member of that community, Mr. Kou Ly.

On Saturday, July 6, was an inspiring Mass at Transfiguration Church in St. Paul, with the profession of first vows of six Africans to the Missionary Sisters of St. Peter Claver. Presiding was the Most Rev. Bernard Hebda, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. Fathers Antoine, Bouchard and Winter were concelebrants.

(L-R) Archbishop Hebda shares the altar with, Diocesan Fr. Michael Skluzacek, the only Oblate Hmong priest, Fr. Antoine Yang, OMI, Fr. Lucien Bouchard, OMI and Fr. Harry Winter, OMI

Then at 2 pm on Saturday Fr. Antoine, Fr. Bouchard and Fr. Winter had an appointment with the archbishop at his residence near the cathedral. He opened the door himself, and was delighted with Antoine’s ministry to the Hmong. He gave them the opportunity to ask if he would be open to Fr. Antoine returning for six months or more, to work with the Catholic Hmong. He said he would welcome it most heartily.

On Sunday, Fr. Bouchard went to St. Vincent’s Church, where another group of Catholic Hmong worship, to concelebrate and preach at their Mass, then he rushed to St. Patrick’s where he concelebrated the noon Hmong Mass, at which Fr. Antoine presided.

(L-R) Fr. Harry Winter, OMI, Fr. Lucien Bouchard, OMI, Fr. Antoine Yang, OMI, Fr. Peter Ly, diocesan Hmong priest of St. Paul-Minneapolis and Fr. Michael Powell, OMI at St.Patrick’s

Then occured the string tying ceremony to honor Fr. Antoine. A Hmong Redemptorist priest from Thailand, Berm Chakrit, blessed the strings, and then each person ties a white string around one wrist of the person being honored. During the ceremony, Archbishop Hebda came by St. Patrick’s, to give Fr. Antoine a thank you note. His availability is remarkable. A young diocesan Hmong priest ordained last year, Fr. Peter Ly was able to concelebrate at the 12 pm Mass and attended the Hand Tying ceremony. ”

(L-R) Fr. Berm Chakrit, CSSR; Fr. Antoine Yang, OMI, Fr. Peter Ly

Redemptorist Father Berm Chakrit, CSSR, blesses the strings which will be tied on Fr. Antoine Yang, OMI’s wrists (seated)

On Friday, Kou and Joua (Oblate Associates) drove Fr. Antoine, Fr. Bouchard and Fr. Winter to the King’s House, Buffalo, MN. They had lunch with the Oblate Priests at the residence and after Lunch, Fr. Lon Konold gave them a magnificent tour of King’s House. They stopped to visit Al Svobodny, the second oldest Oblate in the USA, at the nursing home just a few blocks away from King’s House. (Editor’s note: the title for oldest U.S. Oblate is currently held by Oblate Fr. Clarence Zachman, 98, of Belleville, IL.)

Lunch at King’s House included (beginning left-front, Oblate Fathers Jim Deegan, Lon Konold, Richard Sudlik, Ray Kirtz, Bob Morin, Lucien Bouchard, Antoine Yang, Ron Rolheiser, Harry Winter, and Kou Ly, Oblate Associate

Visiting the venerable Fr. Al Svobodny, OMI (seated) are: (standing L-R) Fr. Antoine Yang, OMI, Oblate Associate, Joua Ly, Fr. Harry Winter, OMI, Fr. Lucien Bouchard, OMI and Oblate Associate, Kou Ly