Phyllis L. Johnson receives the first Father Augustus Tolton & Mother Mary Lange Service Award!

This past November 2015, the Office of Multicultural Ministries partnered with the Black Catholic Ministries to hold an event entitled, Watering the Garden: Growing Vocations in the Black Catholic Family. Various speakers from across the U.S. came to speak at the event, including Bishop Joseph Perry of the Archdiocese of Chicago, Deacon A. Gerard Jordan, O. Praem., from Daylesford Abbey in Paoli, Pennsylvania, and Father Scott Woods, from the Archdiocese of Washington, and Sister Josita Colbert, Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in Cincinnati, Ohio.

All seven speakers came prepared to speak on a variety of topics relating to vocations within the Black Catholic Family, during this day-long conference. The day ended with our annual Unity Mass, celebrated by Bishop Perry, in which Catholics of African-American, Caribbean, and  African descent gather to celebrate their unity in the Catholic faith.

After Mass, we held a reception for all those who attended the Unity Mass. At the reception, we presented the Father Augustus Tolton & Mother Mary Lange Award to Mrs. Phyllis L. Johnson, the very first recipient of the award! While Phyllis was quite surprised, the onlookers were not. Phyllis received this award because of how she has excelled inDSC_3198 (photo taken by Anthony J. Johnson ) service to not only the Black Catholic Community, but also to the Office of Multicultural Ministries. She is present at almost every event, and always comes with camera-in-hand, ready to take pictures and document the special moments that occur. She is constantly striving toward evangelization and discipleship and goes out of her way to help those in need. We were so thrilled to be able to present this award to such a deserving member of the Black Catholic Community. Congratulations, Phyllis!

Not only did this award receive attention throughout the Diocese of Arlington, but it also received national attention, as well! The National Black Catholic Congress got news of this award, and shared the story in a ‘Spotlight Article.’ Click here to view the article.

The Office of Multicultural Ministries plans on presenting the Father Augustus Tolton & Mother Mary Lange Award to a new recipient every year. This award is a great way to display our gratitude to those within the Black Catholic Community that consistently go above and beyond to not only help others within their community, but also at the Diocesan level. In the upcoming years, we will be asking those in the Black Catholic Community for nominations for this award. If you are interested in nominating someone to receive the Father Augustus Tolton & Mother Mary Lange Award, please click here to fill out the application.

Did you miss Watering the Garden: Growing Vocations in the Black Catholic Family? Click here to hear Bishop Joseph Perry’s Keynote or to listen to any of the talks by our many speakers throughout the day.

 

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Simbang Gabi: A Filipino Tradition

Written by: Chiqui Sanchez

Misa de Gallo (Mass of the Rooster), Misa de Aguinaldo (Mass of the Gift) are a couple of terms commonly used to literally interpret SIMBANG GABI (Night Mass). These interpretations stem from the fact that these Masses are traditionally held at dawn in the Philippines to give farmers and fishermen, who either began or ended their days at dawn, the chance to participate in the celebrations, and dawn is the time when the roosters crow to signal and welcome the beginning of each day.  It is also known that the Pope in the latter part of the 1500’s granted a request from an Augustinian Prior to hold these Masses outdoors to accommodate all the people who attended the services at dawn. Simbang Gabi typically starts on December 16th and culminates with the celebration of midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. Typical Filipino fare, shared by families, inevitably follows each Simbang Gabi Mass during this Novena.

Simbang Gabi, a Filipino Tradition in which Advent Novena Mass - 12232014 30

Simbang Gabi has become one of the most popular traditions in the Philippines; a tradition that strengthens relationships within families and one that intensifies the faith of the Filipinos during the Advent season to prepare for the birth of our Lord. Filipino/Americans all over the United States have clung to this tradition and the Filipino/American communities in the Arlington Diocese claim no exception. Simbang Gabi is celebrated in numerous parishes in the Diocese, with one or more parishes taking turns celebrating one evening at a time to complete the novena of Advent Masses. The majority of our diocesan parishes hold the Masses in the evening, deviating from the practice to celebrate at dawn. The parish of St. Charles Borromeo in Arlington, which in December 2016 will be holding its 20th year of celebrating Simbang Gabi at 5:00 in the morning for nine consecutive days, is an exception.

At Our Lady of Good Counsel (OLGC) parish in Vienna, Virginia, the tradition has been going on for the past several years.  The parish-based Fil/Am Community Ministry sponsors the Simbang Gabi on the Saturday that falls within the  Simbang Gabi novena in the Diocese of Arlington. As tradition has it, Simbang Gabi at OLGC is followed by a reception in the church hall. A distinct feature of our Simbang Gabi at OLGC is the Panunuluyan, a short skit depicting Joseph’s and Mary’s Search for an Inn, played and/or sung before Mass begins, by a cast of Filipino/American children in the parish. This play has taken a form that varies from traditional to contemporary throughout the years, with Luke, dressed in a tunic, rolling down a scroll to tell the story or clad in shirt and blue jeans thumbing the story on an iPad.  Our Ministry is also blessed to have its own choir known as Serenata – Fil/Am Community Music Ministry, which provides the liturgical music for our Simbang Gabi at OLGC. The Musical Director also scripts and directs the Panunuluyan and leads the children in song in collaboration with Serenata either during the Mass or at the reception.

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The Fil/Am Community Ministry at OLGC sincerely acknowledges the support of our Pastor and his staff and the Offices of Multicultural Ministries in the Arlington Diocese, without which our endeavor to carry on a most beloved tradition would be in vain.

*Photos taken by Phyllis L. Johnson of the Black Catholic Ministry and various members of the Filipino-American Catholic Ministry.