Tuesday morning the Dallas Morning News featured a page one story on the growth of the Asian community in the Dallas area. Data from the 2010 Federal Census comes as no surprise to those of us in the Diocese of Dallas who have been busy keeping up with the growth of the Asian Catholic population.
As is the pattern with immigrants, most establish enclaves with their own businesses and social networks and, in the case of Catholics, their own parishes. The first Asian parish in the diocese was St. Andrew Kim, founded in 1977 to serve Korean Catholics.
As Vietmamese refugees arrived following the end of the Vietnamese war, many were taken in by existing parishes, but the communities gradually formed parishes of their own. Among them, Mother of Perpetual Help, Garland, St. Joseph Vietnamese Church, Grand Prairie, Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ Vietnamese Church, Carrollton and St. Peter Vietnamese Church, Dallas.
A new facility in Plano was recently completed by Sacred Heart of Jesus Chinese Catholic Parish. Catholics from India brought with them the tradition of the Thomas Christians and established St. Mary Malankara Church in Garland and St. Thomas the Apostle and St. Alphonsa Syro-Malabar parishes, as well as Christ the King Knanayan parish in Garland, Carrollton and Farmer’s Branch respectively. Mar Jacob Angadiath, the founder of St.Thomas the Apostle parish is now Syro-Malabar Bishop for the United States.
The Asian parishes have over 12,000 registered parishioners but many have chosen to become members of other diocesan parishes, particularly Filipinos. Some have produced native vocations. Four Asian priests serving the diocese came from diocesan parishes. Others have come to the diocese from their native countries. Still others are members of Asian communities like the Vietnamese Redemptorists who have a formation house in connection with Mother of Perpetual Help parish in Garland.
In recent years two Vietnamese-American priests have been ordained for the diocese, this year a Japanese-American priest will be ordained and next year a Chinese- American deacon will be ordained to the priesthood.
Among our Permanent Deacons, we presently have one Vietnamese-American and one Korean-American. Five more, three Vietnamese, one Chinese and one Korean will be ordained in January 2013.
Asian parishes reported 1,993 families in 1992 and 7,427 in 2010. That translates into 5,749 Asian parishioners in 1992 and 23,895 in 2010, not allowing for those in regular diocesan parishes. Our diocesan Catholic schools have 875 Asian students, with more in private Catholic schools and high schools.
Participation and leadership in diocesan youth ministry has been high among Asian Catholics, particularly the Vietnamese which is great news not only now but into the future.
Let us rejoice that our Asian Catholics are part of the wonderful diversity and rich mosaic that is the Diocese of Dallas!