By STEPHEN O’KANE, Staff Writer | Published January 22, 2009
Following the strong showing at a Gwinnett County public hearing on Dec. 16, the members of Holy Vietnamese Martyrs Mission are taking to the proverbial streets, hoping to drum up even more support in opposition to the building of a waste transfer station adjacent to their property on Shackleford Road.
The December meeting was the second public hearing on a proposition to rezone the piece of land next to the church for waste transfer uses. Father Francis Tuan Tran, administrator of the Norcross community, brought more than 600 people with him to the first meeting, which ended with a recommendation by county planners to deny the requests for rezoning and a special use permit.
More than 1,000 showed up at the second public hearing, only to learn that the decision would be tabled until a February meeting. Father Tran knew there had to be some action taken, so he and several parishioners are making an effort to reach out to the surrounding Catholic community.
Father Tran said that this most recent effort began with Atlanta Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, who wrote a letter to all of the Gwinnett pastors, asking for their support.
“The archbishop … and the Communications Office really helped us in many ways,” Father Tran said about spreading the word.
“The Holy Vietnamese Martyrs Mission in Norcross is working in opposition to a zoning change that would allow a waste transfer station to be built on property located adjacent to their church,” the letter from Archbishop Gregory began.
“I am writing to ask you to assist Father Francis Tuan Quoc Tran by making your parishioners aware of this zoning change because many of your parishioners are Gwinnett County residents,” the archbishop continued.
Father Tran and his parishioners have also been busy on this issue. He said that there were 10 groups formed at the mission church with the purpose of visiting neighboring Gwinnett County churches to share necessary information about the proposition.
The groups have been speaking at Masses on the weekends as well as handing out flyers with information on the dangers of this motion and how others can help. Many Catholics have given their signatures or their permission to join in a petition supporting the stance of Holy Vietnamese Martyrs Church.
“Many are directly calling the commissioners,” Father Tran said. “Our brothers and sisters, they really support us.”
Nearly 2,000 people have already shown their support for the petition, but Father Tran hopes the number will rise to 10,000 by the time of the Feb. 3 meeting.
The community at Holy Vietnamese Martyrs is holding a prayer vigil on Sat., Jan. 31, from noon until midnight at their home church. They have invited all their neighboring Catholics to pray for them as they ask for God’s will to be done.
The priest is happy that they have been successful with this most recent effort because in weeks prior, other Gwinnett Catholics “really didn’t know what was going on.”
“Now we have a lot of activity,” said Father Tran.
For Catholics living in Gwinnett County, a link with more information about how to contact the county commissioners is available at the archdiocesan Web site, www.archatl.com.