Holy Family Catholic Church Celebrates Black History

By Emelda August

Our Black History Mass and Potluck Dinner on Saturday, February 24 was a big success. Deacon Gerard-Marie Anthony got a big “Holy Family-welcome-back-home” with a large congregation present for the Mass. Father Bill was in attendance also, for his first Black History Program as our new Priest.

Comments after the service were all very positive stating, “He gave a wonderful homily” and “He did a great job explaining and sharing the great accomplishments of three African Americans into the readings and Gospel.” He highlighted the life and contributions of Servants of God Mother Mary Lange, Rev. Augustine Tolton, and Venerable Pierre Toussaint. They all sacrificed a lot while always obeying God and continuing to do good work. They all made a big impact on the Black community and Church.

St. Joseph’s Gospel Choir supplied beautiful music for the Mass and was enjoyed by all.

After Mass, we held our Annual Potluck Dinner in Fr. Griffin Hall. Deacon Anthony got a chance to meet and greet fellow parishioners who had a chance to talk and share dinner together.

Those in attendance were also able to learn about the Mother of Africa Chapel, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, with a poster that showcased pictures and interesting facts and articles about the significance of all the design elements. 


Praying for Vocations with the St. Therese Society

By Rose Mensah

St. Therese Vocation Society of the Diocese of Arlington held their annual Morning of Reflection to which all were invited, on Saturday February 3, 2018, at St Luke Catholic Church in McLean, Virginia.  About ten members of St Therese’s Society of the Ghana Catholic Community attended the program.


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The program started with a nine o’clock morning Mass celebrated by Fr. Anthony Pinizzotto of St. Luke’s parish of McLean, Virginia.  Rev. Fr. Jaffe, Director of Vocations for the Diocese was also in attendance. After Mass, Fr. Jaffe welcomed the attendees, and thanked them for their prayers. A continental breakfast of assorted baked goods, fruits and drinks were served.

The speaker of the conference, Fr.  Anthony Pinizzotto, talked about the importance of prayer, and that prayer should take us out of ourselves in order to serve others.  In his power point presentation, he suggested some ways of promoting vocations in our schools, parishes and in our communities.  Some suggestions were talking to the young kids about vocations during Religious Education Classes and giving encouragement. Also praying for those who are already priests, letting them know that you are praying for them; writing to them, letting them know how you appreciate them bringing us the Sacraments to nourish us and sustain us.

The conference ended with Holy Hour, but before the Holy Hour, St. Therese Society group from the Ghana Community of the Diocese prepared the attendees with songs of praise.


St. Therese Society of the Ghana Community of Arlington Diocese is going to take action on two things in Fr. Pinizzotto’s presentation: to pray each day for the person listed on the calendar, including the spiritual director of our community, and for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life.  Secondly, the group is going to adopt a seminary in Ghana, and get the youth and children of the community to adopt a seminarian from that seminary and correspond with the seminarian.  The group is going to fund the correspondence project.

Prayer for Vocations

God our Father, through the Immaculate
Heart of Mary, I ask You to bless and
Strengthen the spiritual renewal and vitality
Of all priests, and consecrated religious so
That Your Church may shine with greater
Splendor and bear witness to Your presence
In our world today.  Please inspire many men
And women to respond to Your Son’s call to “Come, follow Me”.
I ask this in Jesus’ Name.



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Black Catholic Day of Reflection and Unity Mass

One highlight of Black Catholic History Month came during the Annual Day of Reflection and Unity Mass at Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church in Vienna, Virginia on November 18, 2017.

The Day of Reflection began with reflections on the experiences had by those who attended the National Black Catholic Congress XII. Next, Msgr. Ray East, Archdiocese of Washington gave the keynote address on missionary discipleship. Bishop Michael Burbidge, Diocese of Arlington, presented the Father Augustus Tolton and Mother Mary Lange award to this year’s recipient, Cecilia Braveboy. Prior to the Mass, there was a Praise and Worship session featuring Gospel hymns such as “Break Every Chain” by Will Reagan, and “I Give Myself Away” by William McDowell. Mass began at 5:00 p.m. and was celebrated by Bishop Roy E. Campbell, Jr, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Washington. Bishop Campbell was also the homilist. After the Mass a reception was held where everyone enjoyed great food and company.

Take a look at the great pictures taken at the Day of Reflection!

Photos Courtesy of Anthony Johnson

Celebrating Black Catholic History Month

Every November, Black Catholic History Month in celebrated across the nation. The Diocese of Arlington, through the Black Catholic Ministry, makes a special effort to recognize and celebrate this month. In Fredericksburg, Virginia, St. Jude Catholic Church honors the month annually with a special Mass celebration. Said Belinda Mattos, who helped organize this year’s celebration:

The Mass went extremely well. We had a great turnout and everyone loved the Ghanaian choir…

On Saturday, November 4, St. Jude Catholic Church in Fredericksburg held its 5th annual commemoration of Black Catholic History Month during the 5:00 pm vigil Mass. Deacon Al Anderson, of St Joseph Catholic Church-Alexandria, assisted the celebrant and St. Jude pastor, Father James Hudgins, and served as the homilist. Deacon Anderson gave a powerful homily carrying the message of humility from the readings and the gospel. The congregation was invited to a reception and Black Catholic History displays after the Mass. St. Jude Catholic Church holds this commemoration at the 5:00pm vigil Mass on the first Saturday of November each year.

Photos Courtesy of Phyllis Johnson

The Challenge is to Silence the Mind

By Deacon Al Anderson, Jr. & Ed Jones

We recently attended the 14th annual National Black Catholic Men’s Conference, held in Miami, FL October 5th – 8th. The conference is presented each year by the Bowman Francis Ministry Project, under the leadership of three Society of Divine Word (SVD) priests: twins Reverend Charles and Chester Smith SVD, and Reverend Rev Ken Hamilton SVD

In answer to the question” Why a Black Catholic Men’s Conference?” the brochure states “We are committed Black men, principally Catholic, who recognize our need for God’s help! We gather in Christ’s presence in an atmosphere of trust, equality and anonymity, to share personal feelings and experiences. We unconditionally accept one another and prayerfully support one another. We feel encouraged by the Holy Spirit to share with one another….. Men to Men!”

The theme of this year’s gathering was “The Challenge is to Silence the Mind”. The goal was to provide a holistic and healthy approach to rid ourselves of the negative “noise” (i.e. self-doubt, low self-esteem, rage, etc.) that inhibits us from successfully contending with the psychological and spiritual warfare that many African American men and boys face in today’s society; to provide tools for effectively dealing with pervasive violence, drugs and mass incarceration.

Fr. Sydney Speaks gave very powerful reflection titled “Authority is in the Air”, at the opening session on Thursday evening. He reminded us that true authority comes only from God and those in positions of authority should use it with a servant’s mentality; glorifying God, rather than themselves. Fr. Sydney also exhorted us to not shy away from the authority that we have been given but to eagerly embrace it; while constantly praying for God’s wisdom and seeking the counsel of our brothers and sisters. He has a very active youth ministry and was the primary speaker at the various youth tracts that were presented at the conference.

Fr. Sydney Speaks

Fr. Sydney Speaks

Each day began with Praise and Worship, led by the dynamic Gospel music group Men in the Fire. Afterwards, there were many excellent workshops and keynote addresses on a wide range of topics including: “The History of Black Catholicism”, by Fr. George Kinitba; “Urban Education in the Black Community” by Dr. Donald Edwards, Ed.D; “All Green/and No Black-Environmental Activism is Social Justice Activism” by Dr. Griena Knight-Davis, LPC; and many, many more (Too many to list here)!

We attended several very good workshops. One that particularly impressed me was titled “The Stigma Associated with African American Male Incarceration” by Dr. Wylie Tidwell, PhD. Dr. Tidwell outlined several root causes, historical and current, of Mass Incarceration in the African American community:

  • Reconstruction after slavery – the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution abolished slavery except as punishment for a crime. Reconstruction also gave birth to Jim Crow laws.
  • Lack of Civic Participation – Placing of barriers, such as gerrymandering, designed to exclude Black folks from participation in the political process.
  • Breakdown of Black Families and Communities
  • Deformation of the Black Church and the rise of impersonal / cold mega churches.

The workshop “Where are all the Black Men”, presented by Msgr. Fredrico Britto addressed concerns faced by many churches regarding male absence from the congregation and church activities.  The presenter stated that the average Black Church is made up of 75% female and 75% elders, which posed the question, “what happened to them?” This spawned a lively and interesting open discussion on possible reasons that may have brought about the lack of participation.  The suggested list of reasons was endless but very insightful and enlightening.   Some suggested approaches to getting them back involved included:

  • Men need to hear other men witness to them about the goodness of Jesus
  • Have men to men support groups that include prayer, Bible study, Men’s Day Program and service to the church
  • Ask them for their help (using their professional skills)
  • Mentoring program, Rites of Passage program

The closing Mass for the Conference was held on Saturday evening at the Notre Dame d’Haiti Mission in the heart of Miami’s “Little Haiti”. Bishop Burchell McPherson, a former pastor of the parish (for 18 yrs.) was the celebrant for the Mass. Concelebrating were many African American and African priest from around the country. Fr. Stephen Brown, SVD gave a rousing homily on the conference theme of “The Challenge is to Silence the Mind”. Men in the Fire provided the music ministry for the Mass. The conference ended on Sunday morning with a Healing and Commissioning Service led by Fr. Hamilton.

We have attended several of these conferences in the past and have always come back renewed and refreshed in the Spirit and given much information and counsel on how to better serve my own diaconal ministry. We look forward to next year!

My Roman Rite

Written by: Daniel Rice, Seminarian

This summer I have had a great deal of exposure to a vast range of cultural traditions, especially with regard to the way in which a large diversity of cultures worship God within His One Church. I have met many people of great joy and devotion to our Lord, people whose differences are good to experience. Yet they are also people whose differences are not as great as their similarities, for we all share one human nature and, on an even deeper and more profound level, are adopted sons and daughters of God, brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. How amazing that, as baptized Christians, we can call God our Father, Abba (loosely translated: dad), through the Holy Spirit, Who has been given to us. In the words of St. John the Beloved and Evangelist, “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (1 John 3:1). Truly, we are all one in Christ.

Seal of Office of Multicultural Ministries.jpeg

This summer has been a fruitful one. I hope that my testimony of vocation has been beneficial for my brothers and sisters in Christ. I know that the experiences I have shared with them have been fruitful for me. One profound way in which this was so is that their various cultural traditions have made me reflect upon my own and grow in my love for it. I am an English-speaking Roman Rite Catholic, and what a blessing to be one! I love the English language, the Roman Rite Mass, and the unique spirituality and spiritualities of Western Catholicism. God has indeed set my heart aflame for the beauty, goodness, and truth of Himself, the Catholic faith, and the Roman tradition.

One amazing part of our liturgical tradition is our amazing sacred music. Our vast array of sung music ranges all the way from Latin chant to English hymnody. One piece of music in particular caught my attention this summer: If Ye Love Me, by Thomas Tallis, a 16th century English composer. I invite you to find the best speakers you can, follow the link, sit back, and listen to this amazing piece of music, reading along with the lyrics:

“If ye love me, keep my commandments, and I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another comforter, that he may ‘bide with you forever, e’en the spirit of truth.” (John 14:15–17)

During my third time listening to this in the office, Kelvin gave me a look and said, “Is that you [playing the music]?” I replied, “Yeah.” He added, “Oh, I thought the angels were coming to get me.”

That’s it right there. This piece of music and so many more draw the heart, mind, and soul to their Creator. Their beauty is apparent, but is not their own. Borrowing several words of St. Augustine, “Their beauty is their confession of God.” They are expressive and formative, giving voice and elegance to our prayer to God as well as teaching us about God. After all, the words in Tallis’ piece are from scripture; they are the words of Christ Himself.


Mural of (top to bottom) Christ the High Priest, the virtues, several Saints, and the minor orders.  St. Turibius Chapel at the Pontifical College Josephinum.

We also see this beauty in our sacred art and architecture. Seminarians of the Pontifical College Josephinum, the first time they walked into the newly completed St. Turibius chapel, said that it was as if they “had stumbled into paradise.” I was blessed to complete my four years at the Josephinum by seeing the restoration, renovation, and re-dedication of that chapel. It did indeed seem like a sort of paradise, and all of the art intentionally drew the connection between the sacred space, the Mass, and Heaven. It is upon the altars of the Church that we are united to the Pascal mystery and sacrifice of Christ. It is upon the altars of the Church that Heaven and Earth kiss.

There is much more to my cultural tradition than its music, art, and architecture. I feel at home in the structure, prayers, smells, dress, and actions of our liturgy. I experience the words of Scott Hahn, who named one of his books, Rome Sweet Home. Hopefully we may each begin to plumb the depths of the rich faith that has been handed down to us, each through our own cultural traditions.

Thank you to the Office of Multicultural Ministries and all who welcomed me into their communities this summer.

Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us.

Our Lady of Lavang

Written by: Daniel Rice, Seminarian

On August 5, I went to Saint Veronica’s for Mass with Our Lady of LaVang Catholic Vietnamese Community. I was able to serve at the Mass, and the five altar servers guided me with regard to the particular way of serving in that sanctuary. This was quite helpful, for while every sanctuary ought to have the same key features and some similar qualities, each has its own particular character.


Written in gold half way up the sanctuary wall: “Consider how Veronica saw Him so afflicted and attended and wiped His most holy face.”

At the end of Mass, Father let me speak for a minute or two. I encouraged all present to entrust their vocation to Mary, and (after the inspiration of Pope St. John Paul II) not to be afraid to open wide the doors of their heart to Christ, not to be afraid to follow him on the amazing adventure He has planned for them, not to be afraid to become who they were made to be. After all, God doesn’t just make a person and then draw a blueprint for his life, telling him to follow the directions. Rather, God’s Will, which is Love and Mercy itself, is written on our hearts, is inscribed into our very being. That is the vocation, the calling, that we discover. Your vocation is not what you do, but who you are.

Our Lady of LaVang, pray for us.

Salvador del Mundo

Written by: Daniel Rice, Seminarian


On August 6, I went to Holy Family Parish in Dale City for Mass. While the Mass itself was for the feast of the Transfiguration (as in the rest of the diocese), the liturgy was also commemorating the feast of Salvador del Mundo, the Savior of the World. The Hispanic congregation there at Mass was almost entirely El Salvadorian, for this is their patronal feast, as is evident from the name. The Mass was even celebrated by an El Salvadorian bishop!

I had the privilege of serving at the Mass, and afterward there was a small festival behind the church. I saw several of my coworkers from the Apostolado Hispano Office, who took me around to different food stands to give me hefty samplings of authentic El Salvadorean food: pupusas, tacos, empanadas, yucca, and a special fruit drink of which I forget the name–but not the taste!

20170806_154130.jpgAt this festival, there was a small tournament as well. One by one, young men on bicycles rode as fast as they could underneath a rope that hung across the street. Each one held a small wooden pike, which he would attempt to pike through a small, metal ring above his head as he rode by. Each successful spearing was rewarded with a small amount of cash. This whole competition was reminiscent of Medieval tournaments in which gallant knights in full suits of armor would use their jousting lances to accomplish similar feats, for rewards of various kinds, but most especially for glory. They rode not on bicycles, but on what the bicycles were meant to imitate: caballos, horses.

Let every man imitate the virtues of noble knights, among them valor, chivalry, honor, selflessness, sacrifice, loyalty, and piety, always fighting to protect the well-being and dignity of all, especially the poor and the the weak. Let every woman imitate the virtues of noble ladies, among them gentleness, inspiration, love, true and interior beauty, dignity, inner strength, and devotion, always caring for those in need. All those old, made up stories we heard as children may contain more truth, virtue, and goodness then they at first seemed to possess.

¡Salvador del Mundo, ten piedad de nosotros! Savior of the World, have mercy on us!

Holy Martyrs of Vietnam: An Example to Follow

Written by: Daniel Rice, Seminarian


On July 23, I had the pleasure of attending Mass at Holy Martyrs of Vietnam in Arlington. I was welcomed by their Pastor, Father Liem Tran, a Dominican priest, and allowed to serve. The church was full, and I was struck not only by the excellence and reverence of the altar boys, but also by the reverence and devotion of all present. In fact, there was a certain similarity between the congregation and the image on the sanctuary wall. Pictured on the wall is an image of the Holy Martyrs of Vietnam, those who had given their whole selves to God, dying for bearing the name of Christ. What a great reminder of who we are called to be.

Whether or not we are called to martyrdom, each of us is called to be a saint, to die to himself each day out of love for Jesus Christ. We need not look for sanctity in some life other than our own. Rather, we can “do small things with great love,” as Mother Teresa says. Whether washing the dishes, getting out of bed, going to work, putting aside some time for prayer, having a conversation with a family member, coworker, or friend, or doing anything else, we are always called to make a total offering of ourselves to God in love. Let us use the Holy Family as an example, Who, in daily life, dwelt with God. After all, Jesus spent 30 years in the simplicity of his home before his three years of ministry and three days of bringing about the Paschal mystery, his passion, death, and resurrection. Let us sanctify our daily lives.


Back to Holy Martyrs! The choir and instrumental musicians were composed of members of varying ages, and they used their voices, strings, and talents to glorify God. Aside from the choir, the priest and the people chanted much of the Mass. Vietnamese is a tonal language, so it is not a great leap from speaking the language to chanting it. Because of this, the ease and naturalness of these chanted prayers was perceptible.

At the end of Mass, I said a few words about vocation and then greeted the people as they came out of the church. Each handshake was accompanied by a respectful bow of the head, both by the people and by me.

Holy Martyrs of Vietnam, pray for us.

The Catholic Foundation – Attending My First Brazilian Mass

Written by: Daniel Rice, Seminarian


On July 16, I visited the Diocesan Brazilian Community at the Missionhurst CICM Chapel in Arlington. Driving through the narrow streets of a tightly scrunched neighborhood, I popped out into a small oasis of bright green lawns and trees as well as some lovely buildings. On those grounds was the chapel, in which I had the opportunity to attend their monthly Mass, which is in Portuguese.

20170716_181327.jpgI arrived early to train two boys to be altar servers. This was the first time I had ever done altar server training, and I hadn’t realized how hard it is to communicate all that a server needs to know (or even most of it) in a short period of time. Nevertheless, they served the Mass with me, and they did quite well for their first time.

While the small amount of Spanish that I have learned helped a little, it was still difficult for me to understand the Portuguese language within the Mass. However, since the Roman Catholic Mass has the same foundation, no matter the language, I was still able to know what was going on at each key juncture of the liturgy.


After Mass, we gathered for refreshments and conversation. While enjoying a few Brazilian baked goods and a Brazilian fruit drink, I met one man who, we discovered, was my dad’s old high school classmate. The Catholic world is a small world, it seems; and yet, it is large, Catholic, universal.



Mary, Mother of the Church, Pray for us.