The Importance of Mom

Vietnamese - Michael Folmar at Basilica for Vietnamese PilgrimageBy: Michael Folmar, Seminarian

This past Saturday, July 23rd, there was a pilgrimage for the 10th Anniversary Celebration of the Our Lady of La Vang Chapel at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. In Vietnamese culture, the mother plays a very prominentphoto5 role. Thus, it is no wonder that they have a deep and rooted devotion to Our Lady under the title of Our Lady of La Vang. This devotion started when Our Blessed Mother began to appear to Vietnamese Catholics in 1798 when they were undergoing persecution. A key message from Our Lady of La Vang was to truly live life driven by a deep love for God; to be not only willing, but also ready, to suffer any type of oppression and ill-treatment in honor of Him. In addition, Our Lady of La Vang encouraged them to persevere in faith. Moving forward to 1988, 117 Vietnamese martyrs were canonized by St. John Paul II. Of these martyrs, fourteen of them have relics here, in the Our Lady of La Vang Chapel at the Basilica.

Vietnamese - Michael Folmar with Fr. ChungBack to Saturday’s pilgrimage, this celebration had me traveling with the Vietnamese Choir of Holy Martyrs of Vietnam parish in Arlington. To make this day special, children performed two dances in honor of Our Blessed Mother. There was even a Marian procession into the front doors of the Basilica that was accompanied with Vietnamese hymns and a statue of Our Lady. Mass was well attended by Vietnamese people from all over the United States of America. Some even came as far as California, Texas, and Florida. To round off this pilgrimage, at the end of Mass, we all processed down to the Chapel of Our Lady of La Vang and sang more hymns.

Vietnamese - Michael Folmar with Christina TrinhAfter joining the Vietnamese Community for this special celebration, I decided to serve Mass over at Holy Martyrs of Vietnam (www.cttdva.com) the next day. Overall, this past weekend made me once more realize the importance of staying close to Our Blessed Mother. She always leads us closer to her Son, Jesus, and never ceases to aid and assist us on our challenging pilgrimage to our heavenly homeland. If we want to stay on the path to eternal glory, we must remain close to her. She will not let us perish and will always help us through thick and thin. Mom always knows what is best, and how more so is this true with Our Blessed Mother. Our Lady of La Vang, pray for us.

A special thank you to Fr. John Son Hoang, O.P. of Holy Martyrs of Vietnam parish, as well as fellow parishioner Christina Trinh, who assisted me in making this weekend possible.

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The Syro-Malabar Rite

By: Michael Folmar, Seminarian

Syro-Malabar Michael Folmar n JophyOn Sunday, July 10th I served my first Mass in the Syro-Malabar Rite Tradition (www.stthomasdiocese.org). Thanks to Father Christopher Mould, pastor of St. Andrew the Apostle Catholic Church in Clifton, this community recently moved to his parish, which is where I traveled the previous weekend to attend Mass. This flock of about 150 families is cared for by Father Justin Puthussery, who guided me through the Mass. As I witnessed with various African Masses that I attended earlier this summer (see my previous blogs for more information), there was more singing involved – especially by the priest. These Indian hymns, as well as Indian chants, enhanced the Rite. Moreover, the altar servers participated more by having a greater vocal presence. Although Mass was in their native language, Syro-Malabar TAKE 2 Michael Folmar n Fr. JustinI was able to follow along, as it was very similar to our Roman Rite. At the end of Mass, we had Eucharistic Benediction to further strengthen this community for the upcoming week.

Mass for the Syro-Malabar Community is held at St. Andrew the Apostle Catholic Church every Sunday at 4:30 p.m. If you have never attended Mass in a Rite other than the Roman Rite in our Catholic Church, this is a good one to start with!

 

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass: What Unites Us

By: Michael Folmar, Seminarian

Korean- Moonja, Michael Folmar (bright)Although I have never been to Korea before, I experienced the closest thing to it this past weekend. I was privileged to attend Mass at St. Paul Chung Korean Catholic Church in Fairfax (www.stpaulchung.org). This parish is home to thousands of Korean Catholics that are in the Northern Virginia area. When I arrived at St. Paul Chung parish, I was greeted by confused stares mixed with friendly faces. I was the only non-Korean in sight, which made me feel out of place at first. As I continued to proceed inside, everything was written in Korean. Luckily for me, however, most things were also provided in English. I was soon welcomed by Moonja Kim, a Korean representative for the Multicultural Council of the Office of Multicultural Ministries. She introduced me to the pastor, Father In Joon Chung, who I would like to thank for having me. Father Chung recommended that I experience Korean- St. Paul Chung Statuethe student (youth) Mass, which took place at 11:40 am. Once it began, I no longer felt like a stranger and immediately felt like a part of their community, even though I was the minority. For, it is the Mass that unites us and no one else can unite the Body as well as Jesus Christ, the Head, can. At this Eucharistic Banquet, I was quite impressed by the number of youth that came. Some of them even played woodwind and string instruments for Mass. As I saw all the youth, it brought to mind that we need to pray for Korean vocations for our Diocese to the priesthood and religious life. This is especially needed at St. Paul Chung because the priests that serve this parish come from Korea. So, they tend to be at St. Paul Chung’s for a few years before returning back to Korea.

At the end of Mass, I was determined to get my photo taken by a picture of Our Lady of Korea. It is always comforting to know that each culture has a special place in their hearts for Our Blessed Mother. After this past weekend, I feel as though I had a taste of Korea and did not even have to leave our Diocese to experience it!Korean (Take 3)- Our Lady of Korea n Michael Folmar

St. Paul Chung Catholic Church holds several Masses on Sunday, including an English Mass at 11:40 a.m. For those who have not yet experienced Mass with the Korean Catholic Community of our Diocese, I would strongly recommend it!

 

Hymns of Praise

By: Michael Folmar, Seminarian

IMG_2805 (1)On July 3, I attended Mass at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Alexandria. St Joseph’s Catholic Church is founded through the Order of the Society of St. Joseph, the Josephites. The Joseph
ites are a religious community of Catholic priests and brothers, who serve the African-American community through the proclamation of the Gospel and their personal witness.When arriving at the Church, do not let the small size —which recently celebrated its centennial anniversary — trick you. Despite its stature, it is overflowing with Christ’s love.

This parish is full of parishioners ready to warmly greet and welcome you. Each month — on the first and third Sunday — the 11 a.m. Mass is filled with the sounds of their renowned Gospel choir. The amazing choir which gave glory and praise to God and left all who entered the Church with immediately have a sense of belonging. After Mass, I felt as if I was leaving a Church dear to my heart.  Thank you to Dcn. Albert Anderson, chairman of the Black Catholic Ministry of our Diocese, and to Fr. Donald Fest, S.S.J., pastor of St. Joseph, for welcoming me at their parish.

Cameroon Picture #2After attending Mass in Alexandria, I made another stop to partake in a Cameroonian Mass. This Mass is only held at 2:45 p.m. on the first Sunday of every month at Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church in Vienna. During the Mass, I found the Cameroonian tradition of the priest elevating the Host and Precious Blood at their respective times during the consecration, while singing a hymn of praise to our God to be truly edifying. A final thank you to Fr. William J. Metzger, O.S.F.S., as well as to all the Oblates of St. Francis De Sales, who administer this parish and George Nformi, who coordinates this Mass. Overall, this past weekend proved to be one of strikingly beautiful music for our Lord.

Michael Folmar is a seminarian for the Catholic Diocese of Arlington. This fall he will enter his third Theology at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg. This summer, Michael is serving as an intern in the Office of Multicultural Ministries. Each week he attends a different Mass and writes about his experience at “United through Diversity: One in Christ”.