Mass on this Sunday evening began like many others before it, with the singing of "Open My Eyes, Lord" permeating through Niagara University's Alumni Chapel.
Only this time, the singing of the gathering song's verses alternated between English and Vietnamese.
The distinctive liturgical music was performed by 30 Vietnam natives clad in traditional dress, further punctuating the uniqueness of the experience.
The binational service has become an annual event at NU for each of the three years the Rev. John Doai Kim Dang, C.M., has worked in the university's office of campus ministry.
Approximately 150 members of the local Vietnamese Catholic community attended this year's Mass, labeled as a celebration of friendship between Niagara University and the Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Buffalo. Dang has forged a relationship with the church through pastoral care as well as camping trips to Connecticut and attendance at regional gatherings.
"We believe it's important to expose our students to many other cultures. These events are so beneficial for everyone involved, as they help to establish a stronger linkage between the university and the Vietnamese community," said Dang, who was born in Vietnam.
Whereas the youth group once came to NU to participate in Mass only, it now takes part in a tour of campus and enjoys fellowship over Vietnamese cuisine with university students and employees.
In addition to Niagara University representative, the event was attended by students from Niagara Catholic Jr./Sr. High School and local Vietnamese priests, including Father Joseph Thien V. Nguyen, parochial vicar of St. Andrew's Parish, and Father Peter Hai Nguyen, pastor of the Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
For more information on the numerous ways Niagara University welcomes international students, visit www.niagara.edu/international-admissions.