By Luke Poczatek
On Saturday, July 14th, I had the opportunity to attend a Ghanaian picnic at Fort Hunt Park. Many Ghanaian Catholics traveled from all around the Diocese (and some from even outside the Diocese) to attend this familial and festive gathering, sharing good food and fellowship. As soon as I arrived, I was greeted by warm smiles, and saw a Christ-like demeanor in them. There was cheerful music played, and many of the girls performed cultural dances, which gave me a small taste of the Ghanaian culture. Speaking of taste, you won’t starve with Ghanaians! There was plenty of delicious food being served, with a variety of Ghanaian cuisine. My favorite treat was their special fried donuts. They all made sure I had plenty to eat… and then wanted me to eat some more! One fun thing to see was a boys-verses-girls tug of war match. You would think with a couple of young men, the boys would have the win easily, but the girls pulled off some big wins, and there was an exciting spirit among both sides. I enjoyed my time at the park with Ghanaians, and it turned to be a beautiful afternoon of fellowship and camaraderie.
Looking back at my visit and getting to know more about these African communities, I see that there is a real thirst for belonging, and the faith unifies them in a beautiful way. I am very grateful for the time spent with them, being able to witness their Christ-like joy, and to see how their family comes together in this beautiful way. One can witness their example on how a family bond exemplifies the bond of the Church.
By Luke Poczatek
This past summer, I went down to visit our Diocese’s annual WorkCamp event. My main goal was to visit some of youth from St. Paul Chung Parish and Holy Martyrs of Vietnam Parish. The faith was very much alive, and the high schoolers and group leaders from these two parishes were very welcoming. I spoke with the Korean youth, and told them I was planning on visiting the parish this summer. Meeting with them, I could see that the faith was strong. Meeting with the parishioners from Holy Martyrs, we hit it off quickly. I told them that my grandmother was Vietnamese, and they all got really excited! I made the connection with them, that I really understood their culture through my grandmother. I loved a lot of the same food, and understood plenty of their customs. They even showed me their special type of perfume which consisted of some green liquid. When I smelt it, I told them it reminded me of my grandma! They were all very kind to me, and it made me look forward to visiting their parish.
Looking at my time with the communities at WorkCamp, I got a chance to see that the faith is strong in the youth, in these diverse cultures, and the Lord is working to nurture this faith in their parishes. They express so much joy in their lives, and this joy was contagious when I was with them. Their camaraderie and zeal was awesome to witness, and I was touched by the way they welcomed me as a part of their group. It encourages me to always be the one that welcomes others, and to do it with the joy that these campers showed.
- Luke Poczatek (Second Row, Center) with teens and Youth Group leaders from Holy Martyrs of Vietnam