More than a thousand Burmese-Americans were in town Saturday to see Dcn. Martin Ma Na Ling become the second priest from Myanmar to be ordained for the Diocese of Owensboro. It was the highlight of the 11th annual National Conference of Burmese-American Catholics, which began Friday and runs through Monday.
Tina Kasey, the director of communications for the Diocese, said the ordination is a huge deal.
“Because the population from Myanmar is growing in our Diocese, we have a need,” Kasey said. “He is fulfilling that need by becoming a priest, and I think it’s wonderful that their bishop would allow him to come here and do that.”
Dcn. Martin will serve in Bowling Green, as there is a large population of Burmese-Americans there as well. Bishop William F. Medley said that Martin is not only filling a need with his presence, but with his character and the love he will bring to his church.
“You are a man of joy. You are forever smiling and your smile is contagious and leads others to smile,” Medley said. “Many people will come to know Jesus because of your joy.”
While the ordination is one of the main events of the weekend, many other things are going on as well, mostly at the Owensboro Sportscenter and Owensboro Catholic High School. These include a traditional Burmese song and dance, a soccer game, an American Idol-inspired competition, and various masses and sessions.
“These people are looking for a chance to get together. Other people from our country are looking for a chance to grow their faith, and conferences like this provide that opportunity,” Kasey said.