In 1975, at the invitation of Bernard F. Law, then-bishop of the Springfield-Cape Girardeau Diocese, the members of the Congregation of the Mother Coredemptrix (C.M.C.) came from Guam, Wake Island and Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, to Carthage, Missouri., after having fled Vietnam. All spent time as refugees at Fort Chaffee, at Camp Pendleton, California, or at Indian- town, Pennsylvania. From June 30 to Sept. 3, 1975, ten groups totaling nine priests, 154 brothers, and four novices of the CMC made their way from the refugee camps to the former Oblates of Mary Immaculate Seminary, called Our Lady of the Ozarks. On Oct. 25, 1980, the Assumption Province of the C.M.C. was established.
Since their arrival and eventual purchase of the O.M.I. property, the C.M.C.s have added: Our Lady Queen of Peace Garden with Our Lady of Refugees statue (1983), Mater Dei Retired-Priest House (1987-1993), Vietnamese Martyrs Auditorium and Pastoral Center (1997-1999), and St. Joseph Auditorium. A few years ago, the congregation bought an additional 20 acres of land south of the original property.
The Queen of Peace Garden features a turtle, one of the four sacred animals in Vietnamese culture, signifying peace, longevity, and perfection, with an incense urn, representing prayers, on its back. Throughout the garden are plaques inscribed with the names of the living and the dead remembered in prayer by members of the C.M.C. at the request of Vietnamese people throughout the U.S.
Currently, the Congregation of the Mother Coredemptrix is comprised of twenty-three priests, fifty-four brothers, five novices, seven postulants, and twenty-five high school students. The Vietnamese priests serve Vietnamese parishes and communities in Corona and Sacramento, California; Amarillo, Arlington, Port Arthur, Forth Worth, and Wichita Falls, Texas; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Springfield, Missouri; Denver, Colorado; Boston, Massachu- setts; Lincoln, Nebraska; and Rochester and Syracuse, New York. The general mission of the C.M.C. is the promotion of God's glory, the sanctification of its members, and the propagation of the faith to non-Christian Asians, in particular.
Since 1978, each August the C.M.C. hosts 40-60 thousand Vietnamese, who descend upon Carthage from all over the U.S., for Marian Days. For three to four days people worship and give thanks to God; honor the blessed Virgin Mary; pray for the Church, Vietnam, families, and personal needs; and gain knowledge in ways of living Christian lives.
From Thanksgiving to January 1, the C.M.C. presents ''The Way of Salvation,'' a Christmas drive-through light display which takes five or six people roughly three months to erect and about two months to take down and put away. Visitors come from Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, and from other parts of Missouri to celebrate the birth of Christ and to enjoy the lights spread over the C.M.C. property. TP
Father Boyer, a priest of the Diocese of Springfield, Mo., is the book review editor for The Priest magazine.