Montagnard Catholic Community Leaders
WASHINGTON—Five pastoral leaders led by the President of the Montagnard Catholic Community, Mr. Mien Pangting, of Charlotte, North Carolina met with Ms. Cecile Motus, Assistant Director of the Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church at USCCB on Friday, June 19, 2009. Mr. Pangting informed the secretariat about pastoral activities they provide in collaboration with the Diocese of Charlotte.
“ The Montagnards are several different ethnic groups from Central Vietnam who speak and worship in different Montagnard languages including Kaho, Bahnar and Jarai.” said Mr. Pangting. “We are over 2,500 Catholics in North Carolina. We hope to work with our bishop to find a priest or sister who can speak our language and guide our pastoral ministry.”
The group also met with Anastasia Brown, the Associated Director of Migration and Refugee Services and other MRS Refugee Program staff. Mr. Be Cil and Mr. Thuan Jengniang brought up the plight of Montagnards currently seeking asylum in Thailand. Their community in Charlotte is concerned about those in Thailand and sought advice on how they can help.
There are three vibrant Montagnard Catholic communities in the Southeast. There is a community that is active at St. Patrick Church in Charlotte, one at St. Mary in Greensboro and another one at Our Lady of Lourdes in Raleigh, NC. According to Mr. Pangting, Montagnard children attend English language religious education in their parishes and families go to English language Sunday Masses. During special events and celebrations, “they speak their own languages because they want to preserve their culture just like everyone else in this multicultural world.”