Fr. Martin Ma Na Ling points to a map of Myanmar, also known as Burma, gifted to Bishop William F. Medley on July 24. The map was presented as part of the 14th anniversary celebration of the Myanmar Catholic Community settling in Bowling Green. RILEY GREIF | WKC
Myanmar Catholics of Bowling Green present map to bishop in gratitude for his support
BY ELIZABETH WONG BARNSTEAD, THE WESTERN KENTUCKY CATHOLIC
On July 24, 2023, delegates from the Myanmar Catholic community in Bowling Green visited Bishop William F. Medley at the McRaith Catholic Center in Owensboro to present a special gift.
The gift was a map of Myanmar, also known as Burma, with different locations marked to show the tribes represented among the Burmese Catholics in Bowling Green.
A company in Yangon, Myanmar had been commissioned to create the map with gem art made of a special type of small stones and sand from Myanmar; an art style traditionally gifted to officials like bishops, governors and presidents.
Fr. Martin Ma Na Ling, parochial vicar at Holy Spirit Parish in Bowling Green, brought the delegation to the McRaith Catholic Center, which is the pastoral center for the Diocese of Owensboro, to formally present the map to Bishop Medley.
The map was given in celebration of the 14th anniversary of the Myanmar Catholic community settling in the Bowling Green area and making a home at Holy Spirit.
A Mass and reception were held on June 18 in honor of this anniversary, but the map was not ready in time to be presented to the bishop that day.
“When it arrived (from Myanmar), all the glass and some parts of the frame were broken,” said Fr. Ma Na Ling. “It was fixed by M Gallery in Bowling Green.”
Fr. Ma Na Ling said the map was a gift in thanksgiving for the Diocese of Owensboro welcoming the Myanmar Catholic diaspora to western Kentucky.
A similar map was presented to Fr. Randy Howard, pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, in July, in gratitude for his care and support of the Myanmar Catholics who have made the parish their home.
According to the Kentucky Office for Refugees (KOR), a department of Catholic Charities of Louisville, between the years 2017 and 2021 a total of 442 individuals from Myanmar were resettled in Bowling Green.
Myanmar has experienced devastating sociopolitical turmoil for decades as various forces fight for control of the Southeast Asian country. Myanmar citizens have left their homeland en masse, often ending up in refugee camps in nearby Malaysia and Thailand. A military coup in 2021 worsened the situation, leading more nationals to leave the country.
Originally printed in the September 2023 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.