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.

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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.

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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

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Our Lady of Lavang Council 16468 Installation of Officers

By Mr. Phong Tran, Vietnamese Catholic Community

On October 16th, 2016, the Knights of Columbus Virginia State Council performed the installation for the Our Lady of Lavang, VA, Council 16468. In colorful ceremonies with traditional pageantry, Knights of Columbus – Our Lady of  Lavang, VA, Council # 16468 installed its new officers.

The Installation of Officers ceremony took place in St. Veronica Catholic Church, Chantilly, Virginia. A total of 15 Knights were installed and took part in the ceremonies – with family, friends surrounded by other church members in attendance.

The Mass was administered by the new Pastor, Father Liem T. Tran of Holy Martyrs of Vietnam Church and concelebrated by the Spiritual Director, Father John Son Hoang of Our Lady of Lavang Catholic Community.

District Deputy Philip Bayer presided and administered the oath of office to fifteen of the newly elected officers.

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Installed at the church altar were:

  1. Grand Knight: SK Phong Tran
  2. Chaplain: F Gioan Son Hoang, O.P
  3. Deputy Grand Knight: SK Sang Cao
  4. Chancellor: SK Phuong Nguyen
  5. Recorder: Hung Le
  6. Financial Secretary: SK Tuyen Dao
  7. Treasurer: Gia-Hoa Nguyen
  8. Warden: Hoach Nguyen
  9. Inside Guard: Hai Tran
  10. Outside Guard: Thomas Murray
  11. Advocate: SK Kiem Cao
  12. Lecturer: SK Thao Le
  13. Trustee 1 Year: Tien Nguyen
  14. Trustee 2 Years: Tuan Le
  15. Trustee 3 Years: Long Nguyen

The State Council officers and their wives attending included: Mr. & Mrs. Mike Gasper (State Deputy), Mr. Stephen Raschke (Past State Deputy), Mr. & Mrs. Steven J. Kehoe (State Secretary), Mr. & Mrs. Philip Bayer (District Deputy), Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Galvin (District Deputy), Mr. & Mrs. Tom Yehl (District Warden, P.G.K.), Mr. Bill Cinnamond (District Warden, FDD), Mr. & Mrs. Le Nguyen (State Council Director) and Mr. John Chung (Field Agent).

Mrs. Corinne Monogue (Director of Multicultural Ministries) and Mrs. Liz Puglise corrine_liz_installationwere also present at the Mass and Installation from the Catholic Diocese of Arlington.

Part of the ceremony was the presentation of the jewel of office – often draped on the neck of the new officer by his wife. A stem rose was presented to the wives.

The church hall was beautifully decorated in a patriotic theme including a meaningful table with KofC cake that was set-up by Grand Knight’s wife, Mrs. Oanh-Oanh T. Tran.

The Our Lady of Lavang Community of the Diocese of Arlington, is grateful to be blessed with it’s own Knights of Columbus Council.

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Sending Scholarships to the Philippines

By Chiqui P. Sanchez, Filipino-American Catholic Community

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One of our diocesan Filipino/American Catholic Communities is based at Our Lady of Good Counsel (OLGC) Catholic Church in Vienna, Virginia. As a Fil/Am Catholic ministry, one of our goals is to reach out to the Fil/Am community at OLGC, its neighboring parishes and to our fellow countrymen and women in the Philippines. Since its inception 10 years ago, we have been blessed with opportunities to reach this goal. We have financially contributed to the assistance of major disaster victims in the Philippines through collaboration with major organizations in the Washington DC Metropolitan area such as Feed the Hungry, Inc. and through partnership with the St. Vincent de Paul Society.  We have reached out to families in the areas who have suffered financial setbacks because of illness. We have also extended support to the Movie Workers Welfare Foundation, Inc. (Mowelfund) which is a leading film and resource center that contributes to the overall improvement of the Philippine Film Industry and whose major objective is to address the needs of the movie workers behind the scenes and their families. Through our community outreach program, another goal that the Fil/Am Catholic ministry of Our Lady of Good Counsel has been aiming for is to provide a Filipino student a college scholarship.  College costs for many of those living in poverty in the Philippines are extremely out of reach.   For just a few hundred US dollars a year, we can provide the opportunity for impoverished youth of the Philippines to access a college education.

In March of 2016, we met with Father Posey, Pastor of St. James, Mr. Mike Mele, who travels with Father Posey on behalf of the Pontifical Mission Society and Mrs. Corinne Monogue from the Diocesan Office of Multicultural Ministries about scholarships through YSLEP (Youth Servant Leadership and Education Program) under Caritas Manila (a Catholic organization). Father Posey, Mike and Corinne were in the Philippines in February 2016 to see for themselves what YSLEP is and all three were able to convince those of us in attendance from the OLGC ministry that this scholarship program is a worthy endeavor for our ministry to take on. This meeting concretized our long-time goal to be able to support students in the Philippines.

Through our contact with Caritas Manila, our OLGC-based Fil/Am Community Ministry now has an YSLEP scholar. Leobert Francisco from Basilan, Isabela is in his 2nd year of studies in Education at the Claret College, and we will see him through until he gets his degree in 2019. With our fundraising initiatives that we continue to pursue, with the unfailing moral and spiritual support from our Pastor and staff at OLGC, and the untiring effort from the members of our ministry, God willing, we will be able to sponsor more students who are in need through Caritas Manila. We feel blessed that we have been given yet another opportunity to serve and we are deeply grateful that we are able to make a difference in the life of one of our own brothers and sisters in Christ.  Please keep Leobert Franciso in your prayers for his educational opportunities and future success.

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!

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.

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!

 

Welcome Michael Folmar!!!

            Michael FolmarHello! I’m Michael Folmar and I am a seminarian for our great Diocese of Arlington. I will be headed into Third Theology at Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg, MD this coming August. This summer I am helping out in the Office of Multicultural Ministries for the diocese here. So, I have been given countless opportunities to visit all the various ethnic and cultural Catholic ministries (Hispanic, Filipino, African-American, Korean, Brazilian, Vietnamese, Ghanaian, Eritrean, Cameroon, and Asian and Pacific Islander) that make our diocese vibrantly shine. Ultimately, the office that I am in serves and unites these several ministries by evangelization, as well as by going out to them.

            This past weekend, I was blessed to be at St. Anthony’s in Falls Church (www.stanthonyparish.org). This parish has a very active Hispanic ministry that has captivated several people to come from all over the area – including Maryland. I cannot tell you how hospitable and welcoming everyone was to me. I am also learning Spanish this summer at St. Anthony’s and so have countless opportunities here to learn, as well as practice, it. I started off my endeavor with the Hispanic ministry here by going to Legion of Mary in Spanish on Saturday. It is always nice to see how much devotion and love people have for Our Lady and Jesus – and it sure was not lacking here. Afterwards, there was a Mass in Spanish, followed by two more Spanish Masses the following day. The most heavily attended Mass that filled up the Church was on Sunday at 1 pm. It was very edifying to see various families come here and make it a day at the Church. Many came well before Mass and stayed long after. It was a family event centered around Christ. La Iglesia de San Antonio (its name in Spanish) is a place of refuge and renewal in Christ for many families. Moreover, there is a true sense of community and belonging here.

           Multicultural Office Well, I will be blogging from time to time throughout the summer about other ethnic and Catholic cultural ministries throughout the diocese. So check back here soon. Who knows, you might find out about a ministry that could catapult you closer to Christ. Keep in mind – ALL of the various places that I will be visiting are open to everyone. The more we understand one another, the more solidarity can take root and so bring about more intercultural communication to further build up Christ’s one universal Church. Until next time – ¡Adiós!

Feast of San Pedro Calungsod

This past Saturday, April 2, the diocesan Filipino-American community came together at Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church in Vienna to celebrate the Feast Day of San (Saint) Pedro Calungsod, a Filipino Catholic martyr. San Pedro Calungsod was killed as a teenager while doing missionary work in Guam and is now known as the Patron Saint of Filipino youth, altar boys, the Philippines and overseas Filipino workers. San Pedro Calungsod was beatified on March 5, 2000 by Pope John Paul II.

The Principal Celebrant of the Mass in honor of San Pedro Calungsod was Reverend Ramel O. Portula, CICM, and other celebrants included Rev. William J. Metzger, OSFS, and Rev. John Dolan, OSFS. The Serenata Choir from the Our Lady of Good Counsel Filipino-American Ministry sang joyously at the Mass, in their native language of Tagalog.

 

Our Lady of Good Counsel recently installed an icon of San Pedro Calungsod in their middle
school. Ms Robin Williams, a middle school Religion Teacher at Our Lady of Good CounselIMG_2095 Catholic School, shared the impact that the San Pedro Calungsod icon has had on her, personally, “What an inspiration it has been to have the icon of San Pedro in our middle school Religion classroom. The OLGC students relate to San Pedro because of his youthfulness. San Pedro’s stoic actions of ‘teaching the Faith in the midst of hostility’ give our youth courage to do the same. Even though they are not being asked to lay down their lives, they sometimes have to lay down their wills to each the Gospel message. San Pedro is a daily reminder for our students to LIVE JESUS in all the things they say an do. We have been blessed to house the beautiful icon of San Pedro this past year and thank all those who have allowed us the opportunity to come to know San Pedro on a more intimate level.”

The Feast Day of San Pedro Calungsod is on April 2 of every year. Join us next year in celebration of his devout faith and Filipino heritage!

 

Recap: First Annual Multicultural Choral Concert

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Photo taken by Mr. Tuyen and Mr. Thao

This past April, the Office of Multicultural Ministries held its first annual Multicultural Choral Concert! Hosted by Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria, VA, the concert featured various choirs throughout our Diocese from all different cultures. The participating choirs were as follows: Filipino Serenata Choir from Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, Ghana Catholic Community Choir from Queen of Apostles Parish, Heartsongs: Tam Tinh Ca, Hispanic Charismatic Choir from Good Shepherd Parish, Holy Martyrs of Vietnam Combined Choir, St. Joseph Gospel Choir, and St. Paul Chung Korean Choir.

Callie 6 - Multicultural Choral Concert

Photo taken by Mrs. Phyllis L. Johnson

Each choir performed at least two songs, including the Finale song, Celtic Alleluia by Christopher Walker, which was sung collaboratively by all of the choirs. The entire concert was a beautiful event, showcasing just a few of the many ethnic cultures that are so prevalent in the Diocese of Arlington. The Bishop Ireton students were very involved with the concert, as well – students whose cultural diversity represented each of the performing choirs would introduce a choir before they took the stage. This was the first time our office directly collaborated with Bishop Ireton High School, and it was a major success! Bishop Ireton has already started to plan for the second annual Multicultural Choral Concert in their state-of-the-art auditorium for April 2016. We look forward to seeing you all there!

Korean women with drums

Photo taken by Mr. Tuyen and Mr. Thao

To view some footage of this year’s Multicultural Choral Concert, watch the video below, filmed by Mr. Ed Jones of the Black Catholic Community.