26th Annual Manassas African-American Heritage Festival – August 6, 2016 (Evangelization in Action)

By Deacon Al Anderson, Jr. Black Catholic Ministries

For the third year in a row, the Black Catholic Ministries for the Diocese of Arlington’s Office of Multicultural Ministries has presented a display at the Manassas African-American Heritage Festival. Over the years the festival has grown to include more than 125 exhibitors, including arts and crafts dealers, retailers of African Wares, church groups, youth groups, colleges and school exhibits, Health Fair, Business and Job Expos, Classic Car Show and great food vendors.

African American Heritage Festival 2016

Our diocesan Black Catholic display

 

Our Black Catholic Ministries displays have routinely drawn fallen-away Catholics, curiosity seekers, and others into meaningful discussions. This year’s festival was no exception. What a wonderful opportunity for evangelization!

We met one lady (we’ll call her “Sue”) who was a cradle Catholic, but stopped going to church many years ago. Sue’s mother remained faithful to the practice of the faith and continues to pray for Sue’s “reversion” . Sue shared with me that this was her first Festival, but for some reason felt drawn to this year’s event. When she came across our display table she knew she had to stop and talk. We had a very good conversation and she is seriously considering coming back to Church. Praise God!

We also met an inter-racial Catholic couple who was looking for information about Black Catholics to share with their son. We were able to share with them:

  • The stories of the four African-American Catholics who currently have causes being promoted for canonization: Venerable Pierre Toussaint; Servant of God, Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange; Venerable Mother Henriette Delille, and Servant of God, Fr. Augustus Tolton.
  • The histories of several Black Catholic religious orders, including: the Josephites (an active order of priests and brothers founded after the Civil War to minister to the spiritual and material needs of newly freed slaves), the Oblate Sisters of Providence (the oldest order of Black Catholic nuns in the world), and the Sisters of the Holy Family (The 2nd oldest order of Black Catholic nuns).
  • Information about the Knights and Ladies of Peter Claver – originally founded November 7, 1909 in Mobile Alabama as an organization to allow men and women of color membership in a Catholic fraternal, family-oriented, society.

Each year we have been blessed to have opportunities for dialogue with folks who are curious about Catholicism; have questions about what we believe; or are looking for a way “back home”. All the while enjoying great food, wonderful music, beautiful antique cars, and genuine, warm-hearted fellowship! Even the torrential rains which came at the end of the day couldn’t dampen the spirits of the good people there! Hope to see y’all there next year!

African American Heritage Festival 2016 pic3

And then the Rain came!

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Thank You!

By: Michael Folmar, Seminarian

Seal of Office of Multicultural MinistriesThis past summer was truly a gift, as well as a blessing. To have been given the opportunity to visit and interact with various ethnic communities throughout our rich diocese has been very edifying. I cannot thank our shepherd, Bishop Loverde, and my Vocation Director, Fr. J. D. Jaffe, enough for assigning me to the Office of Multicultural Ministries for my summer 2016 assignment. Being enriched by all the experiences my summer assignment brought me, I now have a better understanding of all the various facets of people that I will, God willing, serve as a priest in our diocese. St. Paul said that we need to “be all things to all men.” Therefore, a solid understanding of the history and traditions of those we serve is valuable to possess. Each one of us originates from a particular cultural background, have had different experiences, and have been fostered by various Catholic upbringings, which have all shaped us uniquely in the image of God.  If we are to meet people where they are and lead them on to greater holiness, closer to God, we need to understand where they are coming from. We all are “beautifully and wonderfully made” in God’s image and likeness. Each one of our lives is a gift that needs to be shared by using our God-given talents for the good of each other. We are on life’s pilgrimage journey to Heaven and we can help each other to get there with a better understanding of where each one of us began. Moreover, we need to never forget to “welcome the stranger among us,” for it is Christ in Whom we are all united.Ghanaian Picnic 2016 - Michael Folmar Making Doughnuts.jpg-large

In addition to pastoral ministry, I also experienced quite a bit of fun of this past summer – I had the opportunity to make doughnuts (Ghanaian sweet rolls, or ‘bofrot’) at the annual Ghana Catholic Picnic! Overall, I thank God for forming me in the various ways He has and pray that all that I have learned carries on into the future. Not to make this a “thank-a-thon,” but I also want to thank all the various leaders of our ethnic communities in our diocese who assisted in all my visits. Last, but certainly not least, I want to thank my supervisor, Corinne Monogue, Director of the Office of Multicultural Ministries for our Diocese, and Elizabeth Tauke, the Office of Multicultural Ministries’ Program Specialist. Under their wings and guidance, I was able to navigate my way around and through the various ethnic communities of our diocese. I have enjoyed contributing to this blog as it has helped me to reflect more deeply on all of Corinne, Liz, and Michael Folmarmy visits. Please pray for me as I return to Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland on August 18th.  As I have stated before, I am headed into Third Theology. I look forward to learning more and being formed into the man Jesus Christ is calling me to be, so as to better serve all of you in our diocese as, God willing, a priest. May God bless each of you and may Our Lady’s mantel of protection never cease to safeguard you!

Give All to God

By: Michael Folmar, Seminarian

Eritrean - Michael Folmar with Yordanos and MichaelThis past weekend I went to my home parish of Holy Spirit, in Annandale, to attend a Ge’ez Rite Eritrean Mass. This is one of the Eastern Rites that we have in our beautifully diverse Church. I happened to come on a good Sunday because there was a baptism after the homily. This made the day that much more special. To top it off, Mass was filled with exuberant praise for our Lord. The entire Mass was chanted in a very Eritrean - Communion Distributiondistinct way that is very characteristic of the Ge’ez Rite. This amazing chanting was not only unique, but also very meditative. It was obvious that everyone present had truly entered into the Mass. This is what we are to do every time we go to Mass. We are to actively participate and praise God with our full being. We need to give God all we have, for He has given us everything. Nothing we have can truly be done, or obtained, by ourselves. It is only “right and just” that we, in return, give all we have back to God in thanksgiving Eritrean - Michael Folmar with priests etcfor all of His blessings – seen and unseen, known and unknown. God never ceases to bless us whether we realize it or not. May we too never cease to give Him glory and honor.

A special thank you to Fr. John O’Donohue, pastor of Holy Spirit (https.holyspiritchurch.us), as well as to Fr. Hagos Tesfagabir, Spiritual Director for the Medhanie Alem Ge’ez Rite Eritrean Catholic Community.