The St. Patrick Parish has served the Vietnamese-American community for the past 37 years and the parishioners are now predominately Vietnamese-Americans. However, the San Jose Diocese had been reluctant to designated it as a Vietnamese-American parish. It is not uncommon to have such designation in southern California, Texas, Virginia, Oregon, Washington, Maryland, Kansas, Oaklahoma, Florida and Louisiana. There are about 3 dozen Vietnamese-American parishes in the US that specifically serve the Vietnamese-American Catholic communities.
So what prompted the change of heart by Bishop Patrick McGrath and his predecessor, Bishop Emeritus Pierre Dumaine.
Earlier this year, there was a major fire at the church and the insurance paid about $3 million for coverage. However, the church is old and needs alot of repair to meet current building codes. The cost for renovation and fixing would be in tens of millions. Fr. Dinh Hao, Fr. Huynh Loi and other Vietnamese-American priests in the parish agreed with the Bishop that a new church is needed to meet the growing of a large parish.
The Diocese suggested raising $30 million as a down payment to build a new church that eventually will cost well above $100 million. However, the parishioners balked at such a steep fund rasing effort. To appeal to the parishioners who is mostly Vietnamese-Americans, the Vietnamese-American priests made a deal with the Bishop - Give us the parish that we have wanted for so long and we will try to raise the money.
Understanding the economic situation of the parish, a compromise was finally reached.
The Bishop said, "As Saint Patrick Proto-Cathedral Parish becomes Our Lady of La Vang Parish, we will not diminish our historic commitment to full ministry to all of the people of the parish, and that ministry will be in Vietnamese, in Spanish and in English."
He also emphasized, "Within the new church will be a large chapel that will be named in honor of Saint Patrick, as a perpetual reminder of the parish’s past and the parish school will continue to bear the name of Saint Patrick.”
Our Lady of La Vang refers to site in central Viet Nam where the Virgin Mary sightings were reported by a number of people in 1798.