On Wednesday, Nov. 9, before a crowd of supporters, the Diocese of Orange unveiled plans and provided a blessing for the second construction phase of the Our Lady of La Vang Shrine on the Christ Cathedral campus in Garden Grove.
THE ROUGHLY 10,000-SQUARE-FOOT GARDENS WILL FEATURE FOUR CIRCULAR NICHES THAT CAN HOST SMALL PRAYER GROUPS IN A QUIET SETTING. CONCEPTUAL ART BY DOMUSSTUDIO ARCHITECTURE
The $2.2-million phase will focus on building Marian gardens on the shrine’s east side. The roughly 10,000-squarefoot gardens will feature four circular niches that can host small prayer groups in a quiet setting. The gardens will highlight four Marian mysteries, contain trilingual prayers (English, Spanish and Vietnamese) and have other imagery depicting the life of the Virgin Mary.
The gardens will also have new landscaping and a new donor monument.
A CHORUS PERFORMS DURING A SPECIAL CEREMONY ANNOUNCING PLANS FOR PHASE TWO OF THE OUR LADY OF LA VANG SHRINE, HELD ON NOV. 9. PHOTO BY KIERNAN COLIFLORES/DIOCESE OF ORANGE
The front section of the shrine will have a new water feature added.
Since the 2021 blessing, Christ Cathedral’s Our Lady of La Vang Shrine has been a popular pilgrimage site for parishioners around the world to visit, particularly Vietnamese Catholics, Auxiliary Bishop Thanh Thai Nguyen said. The shrine regularly hosts Masses and other observations and was the heart of the Diocese’s inaugural Marian Days celebration in July 2022 that brought more than 15,000 people to the campus over two days.
BISHOP KEVIN VANN GIVES A BLESSING DURING A SPECIAL CEREMONY ANNOUNCING PLANS FOR PHASE TWO OF THE OUR LADY OF LA VANG SHRINE, HELD ON NOV. 9. PHOTO BY KIERNAN COLIFLORES/DIOCESE OF ORANGE
“On reflecting on this Our Lady of La Vang Shrine project, I constantly thank God for his special blessing on the ongoing relationship between the Diocese of Orange and the Vietnamese Catholic Community here in the Diocese,” Bishop Nguyen said. “I personally have been blessed with hearing a lot of good stories of healing, stories of reconciliation, and stories of protection through the intercession of our blessed our mother.”
The Our Lady of La Vang Shrine was first unveiled and blessed in an elaborate ceremony in July 2021 that attracted more than 8,000 people. It is contemporary outdoor display of the Virgin Mary that serves as a testament to the remarkable journey of the Vietnamese American people — from war and persecution to a new reality where faith and community are vibrant and ascendant.
The shrine’s centerpiece is a 12-foot-tall Virgin Mary statue, made of Italian marble, that resembles how the Blessed Mother is believed to have appeared before a group of persecuted Vietnamese Catholics in 1798 in a rainforest of Vietnam. Since then, Our Lady of La Vang, as the Marian apparition has since been named, has represented hope, faith and promise to Vietnamese Catholics around the world.
Construction of the second phase is expected to begin in March 2023 and conclude by fall 2023. The architect is David Pfeifer of San Diego-based domusstudio architecture. Mr. Pfeifer and domusstudio are continuing the initial work done by Aaron Torrence of Culver City-based Torrence Architects.
The Our Lady of La Vang Foundation (OLLV), a new nonprofit that’s been tasked with completing the $12.6-million shrine project, will also create a digital library at the shrine
containing history about the Our Lady of La Vang Marian apparition and other Marian apparitions.
“Hopefully, we lead other parishioners and other ethnicities in really understanding that this campus is for anybody,” said Elysabeth Nguyen, CEO of the foundation. “We certainly encourage other communities to work with us to complete the Marion Gardens. We will have opportunities for other groups to put in their “Marys” or their iconic saints and we would love to work with them on that.”