Fr. Joseph Tap Tran attracts young people to Vietnamese Martyrs Parish one ice cream scoop at a time. Photo courtesy of Vincent Pham

Vietnamese youth scream for Ice Cream Sundays

By  Vincent Pham, Youth Speak News
  • September 8, 2017

The idea began as a way for Fr. Joseph Tap Tran’s parishioners to beat the heat.

After each Sunday Mass at the Vietnamese Martyrs Parish in Toronto, from the first week of June to the end of September, parishioners are treated to a free cup of ice cream. Three years later, it’s still a hit — especially among the parish’s young people.

“The youth go to church, attend Mass and after Mass, they then share some social time with each other,” said Tran. “At the same time, they also learn more about the youth ministries at the parish such as the Eucharistic Youth Movement and Youth and Young Adults (YaYA) Toronto.”

The Ice Cream Sunday program is not only a social event. The program was established also to attract youth to the parish, especially during the summer months.

“There’s something to be said about the power of ice cream,” says Martha Ta-Nguyen, youth program co-ordinator.

“After Father Joseph has introduced these summer ice cream socials, regardless of planned meetings, everyone flocks to get a scoop. It has really provided a sweet spot for parishioners to gather and get to know each other more.”

Ta-Nguyen said Ice Cream Sunday has helped strengthen the bond between the pastor and his flock. After the program wraps up, there are still many more events and programs for the parish’s young people.

First is the Mid-Autumn Lantern Festival, a Vietnamese Festival in which young children “rước đèn” (procession with lanterns) into the Church.

Then the parish has their annual Christmas concert planned at Anapilis Halls. The concert features a wide range of performances by the youth.

Later, there is Tết, the festival of the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, which includes a large gathering in the parish hall. At the festival, youth are exposed to Vietnamese food, games and customs.

Liturgically looking, Vietnamese Martyrs Parish has a large group of altar servers, a youth choir, the St. Cecilia Youth Orchestra, The Holy Spirit Band and the Vocational Group which takes part at different Masses.

The Vietnamese International Languages Program runs parallel to the academic year and there is also the Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth weekly meetings.

YaYA Toronto also hosts a monthly bilingual Mass in English and Vietnamese to help youth actively participate actively in Mass.

“There’s a lot of events throughout the year to keep the youth busy until the next Ice Cream Sunday season,” said Tran.

(Pham, 16, is a Grade 11 student at Chaminade College School in Toronto.)

Please support The Catholic Register

Unlike many media companies, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our website. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith-based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.