Multiple cultures at All Saints offer a glimpse of the ‘Universal Church’

When Monsignor Peter Quang Nguyen looks out into the pews during Mass, he is inspired by the diversity he sees.

“It’s giving me a true sense of understanding the universal church,” said the All Saints Catholic Church pastor.

“Different backgrounds give me a true sense of appreciation as the people of the holy mother Church gather throughout the world.”

All Saints, which celebrated its 50th anniversary on Nov. 18, is made up of a mosaic of cultures — from Vietnamese and Hmong to Hispanic and Anglo.

For the parishioners, that variety makes their worship experience even richer.

“It’s exciting that we all come from so many different backgrounds, but we all share the same beliefs,” said John Altman, who has been a parishioner at All Saints his entire life.

“It especially struck me during the anniversary Mass when we were saying the Creed,” he said. “I was looking around, and we’re all from so many different backgrounds and countries. And we’re all standing here reciting the same words and believing the same things.”

Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila presides over the 50th anniversary Mass celebrating the dedication of All Saints Catholic Church on Nov. 18. (Photo by Daniel Petty/Denver Catholic)

Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila celebrated Mass for the parish’s anniversary, which was followed by a reception. The archbishop also blessed the parish’s new prayer garden, which includes statues of different saints, and parishioners enjoyed seeing the new 17 Stations of the Cross in place right outside the church.

Barb Serpa, who joined the parish two years ago, is grateful for Msgr. Quang’s leadership and the upgrades to the parish.

“Monsignor has a lovely way of pulling us all together and making us feel like one family in celebrating our diversity as opposed to struggling with it,” she said. “It’s a very comfortable place to be.”

Although Serpa is newer to the parish, she already feels right at home and spends one to two days a week volunteering for the music and bereavement ministries.

“Since the day I walked in the door, I have felt very welcomed,” she said. “Whatever services I can contribute, I always feel appreciated by the staff.”

Altman, who recently joined the finance council, has also felt closer to his parish family since taking on the role.

“I always felt like I belonged,” he said, “but because I’m involved more, I feel a sense of ownership.”

One of the things that strikes Serpa about All Saints is the liveliness she’s discovered there.

“I feel that there’s life here,” she said. “I’ve been at parishes in the past where you get a sensation that there’s stagnation or a lot of ritual, but not a lot of heart. I have to give the compliment to Monsignor for his vision that we are all brothers and sisters. It’s lovely.”

They can see that after 50 years, the church is still alive.”

The parish is thriving enough to offer three daily Masses — 6:30 a.m. in English, 7:30 a.m. in English and 6 p.m. in Vietnamese. Monsignor Quang even learned the Hmong language and says Mass for the community on Sundays at 1 p.m.

All Saints has around 1,500 registered families, and according to Msgr. Quang, that number continues to increase.

“All I can say is I’m grateful,” he said.

Monsignor Quang believes more parishioners are drawn to the parish because they “find some of those people that share the common faith and the culture and hopefully the zeal for evangelization.”

To keep up with the growth, the pastor is constantly working to enliven the parish both physically and spiritually.

“I believe that the people are so happy,” said Msgr. Quang. “They can see that after 50 years, the church is still alive.

“They were so proud and continue to pass on the flame of faith to the younger generation — not only for a small group of people, but a group of people from many different cultures.”

COMING UP: Q&A: USCCB clarifies intent behind bishops’ Eucharist document

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Last week, the U.S. bishop concluded their annual Spring meeting, during which much about the Church in the U.S was discussed. In particular, the bishops voted to draft a document on the meaning of Eucharistic life in the Church, which was approved by an overwhelming majority.

Since then, speculation about the nature of the document has run rampant, the chief of which is that it was drafted specifically to instigate a policy aimed directly at Catholic politicians and public figures whose outward political expressions and policy enactment do not align with Church teaching.

The USCCB has issued a brief Q&A clarifying the intent of the document, and they have emphasized that “the question of whether or not to deny any individual or groups Holy Communion was not on the ballot.”

“The Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life,” the USCCB said. “The importance of nurturing an ever
deeper understanding of the beauty and mystery of the Eucharist in our lives is not a new topic for the bishops. The document being drafted is not meant to be disciplinary in nature, nor is it targeted at any one individual or class of persons. It will include a section on the Church’s teaching on the responsibility of every Catholic, including bishops, to live in accordance with the truth, goodness and beauty of the Eucharist we celebrate.”

Below are a few commonly asked questions about last week’s meeting and the document on the Eucharist.

Why are the bishops doing this now?

For some time now, a major concern of the bishops has been the declining belief and understanding of the Eucharist among the Catholic faithful. This was a deep enough concern that the theme of the bishops’ strategic plan for 2021-2024 is Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ: Source of Our Healing and Hope. This important document on the Eucharist will serve as a foundation for the multi-year Eucharistic Revival Project, a major national effort to reignite Eucharistic faith in our country. It was clear from the intensity and passion expressed in the individual interventions made by the bishops during last week’s meeting that each bishop deeply loves the Eucharist.

Did the bishops vote to ban politicians from receiving Holy Communion?

No, this was not up for vote or debate. The bishops made no decision about barring anyone from receiving Holy Communion. Each Catholic — regardless of whether they hold public office or not — is called to continual conversion, and the U.S. bishops have repeatedly emphasized the obligation of all Catholics to support human life and dignity and other fundamental principles of Catholic moral and social teaching.

Are the bishops going to issue a national policy on withholding Communion from politicians?

No. There will be no national policy on withholding Communion from politicians. The intent is to present a clear understanding of the Church’s teachings to bring heightened awareness among the faithful of how the Eucharist can transform our lives and bring us closer to our creator and the life he wants for us.

Did the Vatican tell the bishops not to move forward on drafting the document?

No. The Holy See did encourage the bishops to engage in dialogue and broad consultation. Last week’s meeting was the first part of that process. It is important to note that collaboration and consultation among the bishops will be key in the drafting of this document.

Featured photo by Eric Mok on Unsplash