Hmong Community Travels to Celebrate Fr. Lucien Bouchard’s 95th Birthday

Tewksbury, MA

Photos and text by Deacon Kou Ly

Fr. Lucien (Center) poses with all the visitors from the Hmong Catholic community: (L-R) Joua Ly, See Lee, Pa Yang, Fr. Lucien, Deacon Kou Ly, Xeng Yang, and Xia Vue Yang.

On April 5th, 2024 shortly after Lent, Deacon Kou Ly, his wife Joua, Xia Vue Yang and his wife Pa traveled from Minnesota and Wisconsin to Tewksbury, MA to visit Father Lucien Bouchard and celebrate his 95th birthday on Saturday April 6, 2024 at the IHM. They were also joined by Xeng Yang and his wife See from Providence, Rhode Island. Father Bouchard’s birthday is in March but the celebration was delayed until April because of Lent.

Deacon Kou Ly blessed Fr. Bouchard with Holy Water during the ceremony

The Hmong Catholic community in the United States and around the world contributed to host a hand tying ceremony and a luncheon in honor of Fr. Bouchard’s birthday.

Oblates and guests take turns tying a string to Fr. Lucien’s wrist (seated). Here we see Fathers Bill Sheehan (front) and Dan Nassaney tying strings while Fr. John Hanley (R) waits his turn.

The hand tying ceremony is held on every special event of one’s life including birthday. It is a ceremony of the people of Laos, adapted by the Hmong faithful. The ceremony involved the tying of a white thread of cotton (symbolizes purity) on the wrist of the individual who is being wished for good health, peace, joy and prosperity. Before the placing of these strings, they are to be blessed by a priest or a Deacon. The hand tying ceremony is adopted but purified and elevated to the level of the Catholic Faith. The prayer over these strings is supplicating the Almighty God for sanctification. The purpose is to knot the wishes or prayers on to the individual.

The community also presented Father Lucien Bouchard with an iPad as his birthday gift. The community hopes that they could communicate with Father Lucien Bouchard via Facebook and other social media platforms.

The formal dining room at Immaculate Heart of Mary Oblate Residence was filled with Oblates and guests celebrating Fr. Lucien’s 95th birthday

All the residents and staff of the IHM attended Father Lucien Bouchard’s birthday and participated in the ceremony. The Hmong Catholic community would like to extend a sincere appreciation to Father John Hanley (Superior of the house) for his love, support and guidance. They would also like to thank the wonderful staff of IHM for setting up the hall and preparing a wonderful meal for the celebration. May God bless Father Lucien Bouchard with love, good health, peace and joy.

At the breakfast celebration for Fr. Winter we see (Left closest to camera) Fr. Harry Winter, Deacon Kou Ly Xia Vue Yang, (Left side rear) his wife, Pa, Kou Ly’s wife, Joua, Bro. Jean Emmanuel Melancourt, Fr. Lucien Bouchard

On Sunday April 7th, 2024 after Mass, Deacon Kou Ly and Joua took Father Harry Winter (a longtime friend) to celebrate his early 60th Anniversary, since they will not be able to attend his celebration in June, 2024. They thank Father Harry Winter for supporting them and the Hmong Catholic community in St. Paul and pray that Almighty God would reward Father Harry Winter abundantly for his missionary works and his dedication to the Church. May God keep Father Harry Winter healthy and at peace.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Fr. Lucien Bouchard spent many years a a missionary to the Hmong people in Laos. After being expelled from Laos by the Communist government, Fr. Bouchard continued contact with the large community of Hmong refugees in Minnesota. Click here to see a story from 2018 about a visit Fr. Bouchard made to St. Paul MN to celebrate with the Hmong Catholic Community.

In the chapel at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Oblate Residence we see, (L-R) Fr. Richard McAlear, Fr. Daniel Nassaney, Fr. Harry Winter, Deacon Kou Ly, Fr. Lucien Bouchard, and Xia Vue Yang