Salvador del Mundo

Written by: Daniel Rice, Seminarian

20170806_154046.jpg

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!

Advertisements

Holy Martyrs of Vietnam: An Example to Follow

Written by: Daniel Rice, Seminarian

20170723_115320.jpg

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.

20170723_105515.jpg

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

20170716_180651.jpg

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.

20170716_181414.jpg

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.

A Sequel to “My Journey in Finding God”

By: Marierose Hoang, Vietnamese Catholic Community

The summer of 2017 is nothing but extraordinary to me. You can have a plan, but at the end it is God who has the final say.

It began on July 1st, when I had the privilege of being part of the delegation led by Bishop Burbidge of the Diocese of Arlington, VA at The Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel, a gathering convened by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Following this conference, with a more in-depth understanding of what it means to be a missionary disciple, I embarked on my 3rd year mission back to a Danang, Vietnam.

Vietnam - Marierose Hoang.jpg

What a surprise: Welcoming banner to the participants of the 2017 Montessori Education training session.

At my first training session, I was met by 75 eager and enthusiastic sisters of St. Paul de Chartres, who are mostly from southern Vietnam. In the first two days, my daily prayers consisted of: “God, please help me in fulfilling what you have planned for me, allow me

Marierose Teaching in Vietnam

First day of training

to completely surrender to your will and let the Holy Spirit dwell in me for the next 8 days.” And yes, He was always by my side and the training was received with much joy and appreciation. And I cannot do this alone. There is a whole community supporting me from behind and they are the hosting sisters of Thanh Tam congregation in Danang (only 8 of them), with the mission of showing “compassion for suffering people – above all to women and the poorest of the poor – by sharing in the teaching and health care mission of the Church”. They have contributed greatly to this success.

I was unknowingly provided with the means to respond to the radical call to missionary discipleship. Vietnam is a communist country of which there is no God. Trying to reinstate the core values of the Catholic faith there on your own, will only bring headache, disappointment and risk of being expelled.

The sisters of St. Paul de Chartres at Thanh Tam are an evangelizing community and truly embody “a community of missionary disciples who take the first step, who are involved and supportive, who bear fruit and rejoice.” An evangelizing community knows that the Lord has taken the initiative, he has loved us first (cf. 1 Jn 4:19) and therefore we can move forward, boldly take the initiative, go out to others, seek those who have fallen away, stand at the crossroads and welcome the outcast. The disciple is ready to put his or her whole life on the line, even to accepting martyrdom, in bearing witness to Jesus Christ, yet the goal is not to make enemies but to see God’s word accepted and its capacity for liberation and renewal revealed.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Lord sent me to this community and step by step has unveiled his intentions. Many times I have asked myself what is the purpose of my earthly existence. I have learned that the purpose is to collaborate with the sisters in their teaching mission of the Church, a church that goes forth to everyone without exception (E.G. 48). If the whole Church takes up this missionary impulse, she has to go forth to everyone without exception. But to whom should she go to first? When we read the Gospel we find a clear indication: not so much our friends and wealthy neighbors, but above all the poor and the sick, those who are usually despised and overlooked, “those who cannot repay you” (Lk 14:14). In Vietnam, the handicapped children, especially from poor families have been on the margins of society. They are considered the outcasts, the parasites of society. And if they were lucky enough to have some care, it is only for the benefits of certain people taking advantage of their situation.

Children playing in Vietnam - Marierose

Hearing impaired children learning about the continent of Asia

Going to the peripheries: E.G. 20

  1. The word of God constantly shows us how the Lord challenges those who believe in him “to go forth.” Abraham received the call to set out for a new land (cf. Gen 12:1-3). Moses heard God’s call: “Go, I send you” (Ex 3:10) and led the people towards the promised land (cf. Ex 3:17). To Jeremiah God says: “To all whom I send you, you shall go” (Jer 1:7). In our day, Jesus’s command to “go and make disciples” echoes in the changing scenarios and ever new challenges of the Church’s mission of evangelization, and all of us are called to take part in this new mission of “going forth.”Each Christian and community must discern their own path, but all of us are asked to obey the Lord’s call to go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all of the “peripheries” in the light of the Gospel. For most of the Vietnamese Americans who have left the country when the war ended, the hope of going back is very remote. It is remote not because they are not allowed to come back, but more due to resentment and mistrust of a government thriving on corruption and in a “throwaway culture.” Sandwiched between a generation of boat people who have risked their lives and vowed  never to come back and a new generation totally American unable to make sense out of this fierce conviction, the call to come back to lend a hand is not an easy answer. Many times my husband and I have been accused of being pro communist.The Lord has led me to the sisters of St. Paul de Chartres. By his Will, I was able to humbly  assist the sisters in providing a new insight to the educational system for these less fortunate children. With constant prayers and guided by the Holy Spirit, we have started slowly re-instituting  the core values of Catholic teaching in their daily school activities. The training of the teacher is far more than learning ideas. It includes the training of character. It is a preparation of the spirit. Just as Saint Pope John XXI said:

“It is possible to see a clear analogy between the Shepherd in the Church and that of the prudent and generous educator in the Montessori method, who with tenderness, with love and with a wise evaluation of gifts, knows how to discover and bring to light the most hidden virtues and capacities of the child.”

From the start in summer of 2015 at Thanh Tâm Special Education Center to this summer of 2017, it has been quite a journey filled with Joy and Gratitude. The seed of spreading the Montessori Education to the less fortunate children in Vietnam has started to grow. It takes good soil, with good seed that is well tended by an attentive gardener. Without these we cannot expect a crop to grow and produce abundant fruit. (Matthew 13:2)

It is still a continuing journey in which I hope the call to be a missionary disciple will stay in me for the remainder of my life on earth.

Sisters in Vietnam - Marierose

Presenting an original peace ceremony activity: one special component of the Montessori curriculum: Peace Education

St. Paul Chung Pucallpa Mission 2017

Written by: Yoonhee Kim, Korean Catholic Community

During the second week of July, the missionary team of the St. Paul Chung Parish (Fr. Andrew Paik, Pastor) went on the 6th medical mission in Pucallpa, Peru. The missionary team shared the love of God by providing medical assistance through medicine, acupuncture and personal hygiene services.

IMG_6346

For this mission led by Dr. Michael Donhyun Kim along with Fr. Taegon Andrew Seong, IMG_6376we teamed up with medical specialists, oriental acupuncturists, hairdressers and the youth team for a total of 29 people. We distributed essential medication and vitamins as well as providing a clinic for assisting with pain and other ailments. Our youth team visited the local high school to teach English and spent time with children, providing various kinds of activities, art projects, and snacks.

 

 

 

Being surrounded by the poverty and hardships in Pucallpa, we were able to see all that we take for granted. By providing help and assistance to the people in need, we could attempt to hear God’s message through their lives.  Hopefully, our presence and effort gave them happiness and belief in the future.  At the same time, the mission participants could take one more step on the road to becoming closer to God through their Catholic faith.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Lean Into It! – WorkCamp 2017

By Daniel Rice, Seminarian

Isabel, Bishop, Anne, Sarah.jpgOn the morning of Tuesday, June 27, I drove down I-95 and Route 1 to Fredericksburg. At this point, the 2017 Diocesan WorkCamp was well underway, and had been for three days. Each year, over 1,300 teens, contractors, adult leaders, and volunteers from parishes throughout the diocese spend a week of their summer at WorkCamp, helping those less fortunate than themselves in a particular area of the diocese. This year (as well as the past couple years), WorkCamp was centered in Fredricksburg at Massaponax High School. When I arrived around 10:00AM, the high school was not the bustling city it usually is, since the teens and their adult leaders had already departed for their daily work sites. When I arrived, I checked in with the homebase team, who work to ensure that things will run smoothly at the high school. On homebase team, our jobs range from filling up hundreds of water coolers each day, to putting up signs, to leading games, to simply spending time with the campers, accompanying them in their work, prayer, and activities.

Power Saw.jpgThat Tuesday, I had the enviable job of visiting sites. With two of my peers from homebase, I drove 45 minutes through the beautiful Virginia countryside to a site where about eleven teens and four adult leaders were putting up a clothesline, making a garden, and clearing off the back porch of a woman in need of that assistance. After spending some time talking with them and encouraging them, we made our way to our second site visit, where a group of a similar size was working on a trailer to replace several windows, clean and paint the roof, and replace the bottom two feet of siding all the way around. We ate lunch with this group, having some good and fruitful conversation in the cool shade of a tree in the front lawn of the resident for whom they were working.

We got back to the high school in time for homebase’s afternoon meeting, in which we went over the upcoming events for that evening and had roles assigned to each of us. Each evening, campers return from their work sites, endure long lines for showers, eat dinner, and spend time with friends.  At about 6:30PM, everyone goes into the gym (which has been carpeted and furnished with a stage) for Program, a time when the WorkCampers gather for songs, talks, fun activities, prayer, and a slide show video of campers at their sites that day. The specific contents of Program vary day by day, but Tuesday’s Program is always the highlight of the week.

Benediciton.jpgAfter a short slide show and a brief introduction, Bishop Burbidge came on stage and spoke a few words to the youths, expressing to them his amazement at seeing and being present at his first Arlington WorkCamp, encouraging them, relating a story of a grateful resident whom a couple crews were helping, and telling them all to be silent with Jesus Christ in adoration, saying to Him, “Speak, Lord, Your servant is listening” (cf. 1 Samuel 3:9). The Bishop then led adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament–at which I had the privilege to serve–first exposing our Lord, next processing with Him through the crowd of people, and finally placing Him back on the altar. For the next hour or more, all adored Jesus during the rosary, some music, and some time of silent prayer. While I went to the section for prayer partners (adults to whom the teens can come to have one-on-one conversation and prayer), Bishop and more than 50 other priests went to their stations to hear Confessions. They were certainly kept busy, and many of the teens had a powerful encounter with God that night through those two Sacraments, the Most Holy Eucharist and Reconciliation. For many, this was the first time they had ever been to adoration and the first time in several years that they had been to Confession. In my years as a work-camper, this night was powerful indeed, and was influential in my decision to apply to the seminary. After the conclusion of Program each night, the teens meet together with their parish groups to share and discuss their experiences and other aspects of their lives.

Each year that I go to help with WorkCamp, I meet amazing people. This year was no different, and although I could write or talk about many of the people I met, I will pick just one. One man on this year’s homebase team lives in England. Being born and raised across the pond, he is now in a university there while also doing youth ministry at a Catholic Parish. One of his American friends gave such rave reviews of Arlington’s WorkCamp that he flew over to America just for that week! He said that already WorkCamp had blown him away and that he is going to do his very best to come back next year. Hearing his experience and seeing his example of Christian joy, I realized how truly blessed we are to live in such an amazing diocese, how blessed I have been to be involved with WorkCamp for several years, and how good it is to be a seminarian for this diocese.

Morning Mass.jpgOn Wednesday, I served morning Mass (an everyday occurrence at WorkCamp, the work being balanced with prayer) with the bishop and several other priests and seminarians. Following that, I helped carry water coolers, made another site visit, helped with various small jobs around the school, welcomed the campers back upon their return, helped collect their lunch bags, and watched the talent show rehearsal–these teens have some serious skills. I departed that evening, giving thanks for the couple days I spent there and praying for all who would remain for a couple more.

See the recap video of Diocesan WorkCamp 2017 here.

St. Joseph the Worker, pray for us.

 

National Black Catholic Congress XII

NBCC XII - July 6 - 9, 2017 - Group Photo - July 08, 2017 1NBCC XII - July 6 - 9, 2017 - Group Photo - July 08, 2017 2

Twenty-five members of the diocesan Black Catholic Community attended this year’s National Black Catholic Congress (NBCC), which is held every five years in various locations across the United States. This year’s Congress was held in Orlando, Florida from July 6-9, 2017 with the theme, The Spirit of the Lord is Upon Me: Act Justly, Love Goodness and Walk Humbly with Your God. While the NBCC attendees witnessed many of the same speakers and presentations, each individual walked away from the Congress with a different perspective. Below are the reflections of a few of our Black Catholic Community members who attended the National Black Catholic Congress XII:

 

Reflection from Patricia Jacobs, St. Joseph Catholic Church in Alexandria

“I was blessed and privileged to attend the Congress in Orlando, Florida.  This was the first Congress that I have attended and I was very excited and pleased to have been chosen to go. My overall opinion, which I could see immediately, was that it was very well organized and designed to address ‘real’ issues in today’s world.

NBCC XII - July 6 - 9, 2017 - Photos by Phyllis L. Johnson 44

All of the General Sessions were excellent and inspiring.  However, I enjoyed Dr. Bent-Goodley and Attorney Bryan Stevenson the most.  Their topics had a special interest for me.  With regards to the workshops, I found both, the topics and the presenters, to be interesting and relevant. Deciding on which ones to attend was difficult as there were so many to choose from.  I finally decided on:  Racism:  A Negative and Real Destructive Force; The Unrest in Ferguson: Archdiocese of St. Louis – Best Practices and Lessons Learned; Methodical Bible Study that Works; and, Racism:  A Negative and Real Destructive Force.  (I used to live very close to Ferguson so that workshop was personal for me.  I had no idea that the Church/Bishop was so involved).

In addition to the General Sessions and Workshops, I thoroughly enjoyed meeting other Black Catholics from around the country.  I thought the event was ‘Awesome’ and I am glad to have had the opportunity to attend and look forward to the next one.”

 

Reflection from Barbara Harris, Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church

NBCC XII - July 6 - 9, 2017 - Photos by Phyllis L. Johnson 49

“I thought the whole Congress was well organized! I enjoyed every minute, especially the Welcoming and the Eucharistic Liturgy at the Basilica. The workshops I attended were led by Tonya Dorsey. I learned some tips on how to sight read and how to be a better choir member.  I sang in the choir at the Basilica and at the Eucharistic Liturgies both Saturday and Sunday mornings!  I also sang in the Gospel Concert!! 😊 (The Lord is Good all the Time!) I especially enjoyed meeting members from other parishes. I am originally from Omaha, Nebraska and it was really special for me to  see members from St. Benedict’s Catholic Church in Omaha who I haven’t seen in ages!”

 

Reflection from Phyllis & Anthony Johnson, St. Joseph Catholic Church in Alexandria

“Anthony and I were presenters for the interactive workshop entitled:  I knew you before you were born.

nbcc-xii-july-6-9-2017-photos-by-fred-k-pro-life-workshop-3.jpgThis was an ‘interactive’ workshop targeted at young adults.  A total of four workshops were given. Almost 90 attendees took part in the interactive workshops’ which were very well received.

A number of clergy sat in and took active roles with each group’s breakout session.  Each group had seven questions to answer.  This afforded them the opportunity to discuss and share among themselves things that work and do not work in their individual parishes. At the conclusion of each interactive session – results were shared among all the attendees.

At least two attendees admitted to the group that they did not think or feel confident that a PRO LIFE discussion could be held in an ‘interactive’ forum with their views being addressed head on.  In fact that is exactly what happened for this attendee – I am paraphrasing – as one group participant put it, ‘I’m so glad Father was there to address my concerns directly – because of that I now see that PRO LIFE is much more than just an abortion issue.'”

 

Reflection from Sharon & Ben Carter, St. Joseph Catholic Church in Alexandria

“This was our first time attending a National Black Congress and it exceeded our expectations!  It was a fantastic learning, spiritual, and faith-filled time.

The Congress was well planned and the theme, The Spirit of the Lord is Upon Me: act justly, love goodness, and walk humbly with your God, radiated throughout the event.  It was reinforced in the remarks of the speakers in the general sessions, as well as in the workshops.

Our favorite speaker was Bryan Stevenson, Esq.—“Love Mercy and Do Justice: Confronting Mass Incarceration, Racial Bias and Poverty”.  His charge to all of us to change the narrative of fear and anger, to do things that are uncomfortable, to become proximate were compelling and actions we hope to take forward in our lives and to our parish.

NBCC XII - July 6 - 9, 2017 - Photos by Phyllis L. Johnson 25

The participation of the youth in the Congress was heartwarming and comforting.  It solidified the importance of our youth in our churches, and how we must listen to them and include them in our programs. Hopefully, at the next Congress, our church will have members of our youth participating.  As one of our speakers noted, the youth are our church Now and in the Future.

We are so grateful to Deacon Al Anderson, Jr. for his leadership, love and guidance.  And, to the Diocese for supporting us financially and spiritually in our journey and participation in this Congress.  It has filled our hearts and our souls with a burning desire to continue our journey to live as Christ wants us to live and to share His Word.”

 

Reflection from Ciara Vega-Strickland, Former St. Joseph parishioner, now living in Florida

“First I would like to thank Deacon Al Anderson, Jr. so much for inviting me to the conference. It was truly an amazing experience to see so many African Americans of all ages present. Of course you always hear “What, you are a black Catholic?” Felt good to not hear that for once.

I truly think this conference should be held more often so that we can help each other across the world. The sessions were great eye openers to things that are in front of us daily that we don’t always think about. I think the conference should be every 2-3 years, as so much can change over a 5 year period and I feel like we need to stay up-to-date on what’s happening now and live in the moments of time.

Out of the general sessions my favorite session would have to be “Love Mercy and Do Justice: Confronting Mass Incarceration, Racial Bias and Poverty.” by Bryan Stevenson. It was very eye opening since currently in Pensacola we have overcrowded jails with 30% of the inmates sleeping on the floors. I learned this after I came back home and started looking into how I can help the community I live in. I have also ordered his book to dig deeper into what he was speaking on. I also looked into the number of people in jail that can’t afford bail.

NBCC XII - July 6 - 9, 2017 - Photos by Phyllis L. Johnson 43

I also attended Deacon Al and Mrs. Anderson’s youth workshop “You are never to young to be Pro Life”… It was a great session. Where the kids got to open up and talk freely. My heart my crushed when I found out not one Church had a Pro Life group. I remember being in elementary school helping out with Pro life events. It also was sad that these kids had to worry about drugs and people being killed steps away from their Churches and Schools. It made me realize how I grew up so active in the Church isn’t how everyone grows up. Being able to travel and learn so much about our culture. I wish we could do like a big sister/big brother program with the other black Catholic Churches that don’t have the resources like we do.”

 

Reflection from Thaleia Deramous, St. Joseph Catholic Church in Alexandria

“I greatly appreciate the opportunity to travel to Orlando to experience the Congress this year.  It was so nice to be able to get together with over 2,000 Black Catholics from around the world.  Overall the conference was great.  I enjoyed hearing Cardinal Turkson speak as well as Mr. Bryan Stevenson, who spoke about our prison systems.  He was EXCELLENT!!!  I’ve already ordered his book, Just Mercy.  I greatly enjoyed the Mass at the Shrine and the Homily.  That priest gave a compelling homily that really spoke to what we as blacks are dealing with today. “

St. Paul Chung

By Daniel Rice, Seminarian

20170709_131455.jpgOn Sunday, July 9, I went to the only weekly English Mass at the Korean Catholic Church, St. Paul Chung. I was welcomed by Joseph, whom I had met a couple weeks before, and shown to the sacristy. After vesting in my cassock and surplice, I spoke for several minutes with the three altar servers (some of the best and most reverent I have ever seen at a parish!)  and a couple others who assisted with the liturgy. One young man, who was the head of the altar serving program, asked the servers if they knew why my cassock has thirty-three buttons. One answered correctly that they signify the years that Christ spent on earth. I was reminded of this encounter a few days later when I read an Old Testament foreshadowing of Christ. After the Scriptures say that King “David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David,” it is recorded that “the time that David reigned over Israel was forty years; he reigned seven years in Hebron, and thirty-three years in Jerusalem” (1 Kings 2:10-11). Jesus, the Son of David, the King of Israel and of all creation, lived in Israel and Jerusalem for thirty-three years and inaugurated the new reign of the Kingdom of God, which will have no end.

20170709_130934.jpgOnce Father Paul had finished hearing Confessions, he came back to the sacristy and quickly vested before Mass began, meanwhile giving us a sneak-peak into his homily about the yoke of Christ. He explained that when you have multiple animals plowing a field (e.g., two oxen), the yoke is the wooden beam that is placed on their necks and keeps them moving together. Christ says, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light” (Matthew 11:28-30). When we are yoked to Christ, our work becomes one with His. When we let Him set the pace for our lives, not rushing ahead, dragging behind, or turning every which way, then our yoke is easy and we learn from Him. What a beautiful image of companionship with God Himself, Who became man for our sake and abides with us.

This Mass, which was fairly well attended, is packed during the school year, the time when Sunday CCD follows the liturgy. From my place next to the priest’s chair, I looked out upon families who had come there together. This Mass had been described to me as the “students’ Mass,” and a large portion of the congregation were indeed young people. The music was led by a dozen or so young people, who together made up a small choir and strings section. The three altar servers, vested in red cassock and white surplice, masterfully and prayerfully assisted at the altar and gave me pointers on how to serve in this particular church.

20170709_131356.jpgAt the end of Mass, I was able to give a short version of my vocation story. Because Korean culture is family-oriented, I focused especially on my relationship with my family and their support in my journey toward the priesthood. I also shared this anecdote: The day after a priest is ordained, he celebrates his first Mass—I attended two first Masses this past June. At the conclusion of this Mass, it is a tradition that the newly ordained priest will give a gift to each of his parents. He gives to his father his first confessional stole, for it is his father who taught him justice and mercy. He gives to his mother a special cloth called the maniturgium. At his ordination, after his hands were anointed with Sacred Chrism, he used the maniturgium to wipe the excess holy oil from his hands. Upon his mother’s death, she is to be buried with this cloth wrapped around her hands. The tradition goes that when she comes before God, He will say to her, ‘I have given you life. What have you given me?’ Handing our Lord the maniturgium, she will respond, ‘I have given you a priest.’

St. Paul Chung, pray for us.

Cameroonian Catholic Community

By Daniel Rice, Seminarian

Flag_of_Cameroon.svg.pngOn Sunday, July 2, I made my way over to Our Lady of Good Council Catholic Church in Vienna. The Cameroonian Catholic Community of the diocese usually fills the Parish Chapel for their monthly Masses. During the summer, however, with people traveling and out of town, the attending group was smaller and more intimate. Father Mbinkar, their spiritual leader, was not able to be present due to travels of his own: a several week long trip to Cameroon. However, Father Dennis, who concelebrates most of the Masses for this community, and Father Elvis, a visiting Cameroonian priest, welcomed me to serve the Mass.

Accompanied by a couple of traditional African drums and a keyboard, these people sang joyously to God. Most of the Mass and music was in English, but the unique spirit of this group was evident. I was permitted to briefly say a few words of vocational testimony after Mass. I told a little bit about myself and my journey towards the priesthood of Jesus Christ, and also encouraged all married people present to live out that Sacramental Vocation with great love. After Mass I had the pleasure of meeting most of the members of the community there, and was invited by several to come to Cameroon at some point in the future!

Our Lady of Good Counsel, pray for us.

Praise the Lord!

By Daniel Rice, Seminarian

20170702_123952.jpgOn Sunday, July 2, I drove into Old Town Alexandria to attend and serve Mass at St. Joseph Catholic Church. St. Katharine Drexel and her family were instrumental in funding and founding (in 1915) the parish, which served the African American population of Alexandria in a time of intense segregation. When I was there, I saw the stain glass window on which St. Katharine and her sister had left a dedication to their parents. Historically, this Josephite parish has been predominantly African American, but welcomes everyone and now has parishioners of various ethnicities.

Before Mass began, any visitors in the congregation were invited to stand, give their name, and announce where they were visiting from. Each of them was then greeted with a hearty “welcome!” from those gathered for Mass. That day, there were people from as near as St. Mary’s in Alexandria and as far as Massachusetts. Three of the visitors from Boston were Daughters of St. Paul, whose order has a branch of Pauline Books and Media (a renowned Catholic shop and bookstore) in Alexandria on the corner of King and Henry. I was blessed to meet them and talk with them briefly after Mass.

20170702_124432.jpgThis Sunday, as on the first and third Sundays of every month, St. Joseph’s Gospel Choir sang at Mass; what a treat! This soulful music revealed the deep love of God that this community has.  My favorite song was after Communion, when the choir praised God and sang, “Yes, Lord.” May we always praise the Lord, our God, with our hearts, souls, and voices. “Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen.”

Saint Joseph, Protector of Holy Church, pray for us.