The Asian Catholic Diaspora

April 9, 2014
DePaul University

Jaisy Joseph
~ Doctoral Candidate, Theology, Boston College

Fr. Linh Hoang, OFM
~ Professor, Religious Studies, Siena College

Each speaker presented a different perspective on the Asian Catholic diaspora. Jaisy Joseph's talk is titled "Negotiations Within the Existential In-Between: SyroMalabar Catholics in Diaspora." She begins with Gioacchino Campese's idea that we are in the midst of an "irruption of migrants" in the third millennium, and this irruption demands a specific witness to make present those who are often absent from societal & ecclesial consciousness. In response, this talk first addresses the epistemological & hermeneutical consequences of the migrant & diasporic experience. It then explores three particular negotiations made by SyroMalabar Catholics in diaspora. Finally, it envisions how the existential in-between experienced by migrants & their families in diaspora can inform Catholic ecclesiology.

Fr. Hoang presented a talk entitled "Vietnamese Catholics & Globalization: Re-imaging Mary as Asian." He discusses the 200th anniversary, in 1998, of Mary’s apparition in La Vang, Vietnam, when Catholics in Vietnam ordered a “Vietnamese-looking” Mary that was created by a Vietnamese artist living in California. Even though there have been many renderings of “Asian” Mary, Mother of God, this request was unique because it originated from Vietnam to those in the Vietnamese diaspora. This turn in identity from "European-looking" colonial statues replaced by refugee-rendered “Asian-looking” statues provides a new aesthetic perspective to Catholicism.

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