By Tim Harfmann
Chinese Catholics at St. Agatha Church in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, rang in the Lunar New Year with a bang.
“This is the most important day in China!” said parishioner Li Zheng.
“It means happiness for the New Year and new hope for the future year,” said Yani Chen, another parishioner.
Brooklyn Auxiliary Bishop Witold Mroziewski celebrated the bilingual Mass in English and Mandarin. Nearly 200 Catholics attended the festive liturgy.
“They are bringing with themselves the deep faith in god and their traditions,” said Bishop Mroziewski.
Lunar New Year traditions include honoring ancestors with a specially constructed altar. Catholics presented items including fresh fruit symbolizing achievement, flowers representing love, and wine symbolizing a sign of life.
Zheng’s daughter, Kayla, described another tradition: “Lucky money! Because in China, adults believe that giving lucky money to children will bring them luck.”
But Catholics in Brooklyn are also concerned for loved ones back in China.
Large Lunar New Year gatherings in Beijing and all across Asia were cancelled amid growing concerns over the coronavirus.
Thousands of cases have hit China and other countries, including the U.S. Scores of people have died.
“We pray for them. We worry, but we pray!” said Zheng.
“We give all the best wishes for our family and friends,” added Chen.
Wishing the best for loved ones back home while praying in Brooklyn — hoping the New Year brings happiness for all.