Visiting WorkCamp 2018

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 at Work Camp II
Luke Poczatek (Second Row, Center) with teens and Youth Group leaders from Holy Martyrs of Vietnam

 

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Faith and Frozen Yogurt

By Luke Poczatek

This past week, I had a great time getting to know the Filipino Catholic community. The leader

of Filipino Catholic events, Ed, gathered a good number of Filipino parents and their middle schoolers and high schoolers for a frozen yogurt outing followed by confession and adoration at St. Theresa’s in Ashburn. Getting to know the parents, I got a sense that they were good, hard working parents that were very involved in their children’s lives. They were all surprised to hear that I come from a large family of ten children. They were also surprised when they heard of the Spiritual Year that I will be going to at the seminary, which consists of a technology fast five to six days a week. After our yogurt outing, we all went to St Theresa’s for confession and adoration. It was a good evening. To me, Jesus, friends and food make any evening good!

Reflecting on my time with the families, there were a couple of things that stood out. One is the presence of strong Catholic family identity, which was shown by the fact that all the youth where accompanied by their parents. That is something you don’t see in our American society today as often. Second, Christ plants seeds in even the smallest of openings that we give him, and the fact that the youth gave this time with their parents and for confession, shows that they are receptive to what their faith offers and provides. I was personally touched by their attention when I spoke about what a holy hour is, and how even seminarians still struggle with staying attentive during their devotional adoration time in the seminary. From all this, I hope that the Lord will continue to bless their lives, and all those of the Filipino Catholic community, as they strive stay connected with their faith and family.

Korean Catholicism cascaded from Martyrs’ faiths

By Tschangho John Kim

May is a special month for Korean Catholics. Saint Pope John Paul II canonized 103 Korean martyrs to sainthood in May 6, 1984. Pope Francis beatified 124 Koreans including 123 martyrs in 2014, and declared May 29 to be the day of commemoration for the Blessed. In addition, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Korea dedicated the month of May to adore the Virgin Mary.

Catholicism has been introduced into Korea not by missionaries, but by Korean scholars searching for the truth of the universe, a unique case in the history of religion. From early 17th century, a few scholars studied a book written by a Jesuit priest Mateo Ricci titled, “The True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven.”  Since 1777, a few scholars gathered in a Buddhist Temple regularly and discussed on the new idea that came from the West. One of the scholars, Seung-Hoon Lee, had an opportunity to visit Beijing, China as a member of King’s delegation in 1783. He stayed there for few months and met several Jesuit priests, and finally was baptized as Peter by Fr. Jean-Joseph de Grammont, became the first official Korean Catholic. When he returned back to Korea, a number of catechism books, crosses, rosaries and other sacred items came along with him that guided those yearning scholars as lighthouse for searching for the truth about the Creator.

By 1785, Peter Seung-Hoon Lee has baptized more than a thousand, and thus few leaders thought they need to establish a church and a sacerdotalism. They self-appointed a bishop and few priests and became disciples for spreading the Gospel which they have translated into Korean. They served Masses, communions and confessions. One of them soon found out that no one allowed to exercise priesthood without ordination and proper education. They wrote a letter with explaining what they did to Bishop Alexander de Gouvea in Beijing who was stunned at the least to hear the self-appointed sacerdotalim, asked them to stop practicing sacraments, and the self-appointed sacerdotalism in Korea thus ended in 1790. At the time, Bishop Gouvea was so moved by the faiths expressed in the letter, he dispatched a Chinese priest named Fr. James Wenmo Chou in 1794.

Catholicism spread steadily and widely in the Yi dynasty Korea, particularly after a few missionaries arrived from the Paris Foreign Missions Society in 1831 headed by Bishop Lurent Imbert. But the faith soon faced in conflict with Neo-Confucianism, the governing philosophy in that society, and with the traditional culture. Catholic teaching then banned the practice of ancestral rites as deifying activities while Korean custom considered it as a filial duty to ancestors. In addition, the dominant strict hierarchical social order in the hermit kingdom could not tolerate the idea of the principal equality of all mankind. The kingdom’s authority thus banned Catholicism as a dangerous belief that might eventually destroy the system based on which the kingdom has founded.

The persecution that began in 1801 lasted for about 80 years during which time more than 10,000 of the Catholics have been martyred. St. Bishop Imbert was martyred in 1839 and was canonized in 1984. Among 103 Saints and 124 Blessed, there were 10 martyrs came from just one family. St. Paul Hasang Chung, his mother, St. Cecilia Choi Yoo and his sister St. Elisabeth Junghye Chung were canonized in 1984 by St. John Paul II. His father, Augustine Yakjong Chung and his brother, Carlos Chulsan Chung were beatified in 2014 by Pope Francis.

The persecution finally ended in 1882 and religious freedom was officially declared in 1894. Since, Catholics in Korea have been steadily increased to about 10% of the South Korean population of 51 million as of 2018.

Korean Catholics in the northern Virginia gathered together in 1985 and began a mission named after St. Paul Hasang Chung. The St. Paul Chung Parish in the Arlington diocese thus started with about 1,100 faithful now has 6,700 registered parishioners, the largest among Korean parishes in the USA. The Parish church was completed in 1995 with the following passion engraved on the cornerstone of the church, “We dedicate the Church to the generations to follow as heritage of out motherland we left.”

Reference
1. A Brief History of Korean Catholicism (in Korean), St. Andrew Kim Parish, LA, 2006, http://www.standrewkimchicago.org/xe/catechism/9523
2. Catholic Bishiops’ Conference in Korea, Dawn of Catholicism in Korea, http://english.cbck.or.kr/history/106; http://english.cbck.or.kr/history/1178
3. The Wall Street Journal, 2014, A Brief History of the Catholic Church in Korea, Aug 14, 2014. https://blogs.wsj.com/korearealtime/2014/08/14/a-brief-history-of-the-catholic-church-in-korea/
4. Kirsteen Kim, 2016, Are Koreans the world’s most dynamic Catholics? Catholic Herald Nov. 10, 2016, http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/issues/november-11th-2016/are-koreans-the-worlds-most-dynamic-catholics/

 

Prayer becomes habit with Lightworks

Lightworks, the Ignation spiritual program, is a 14-week series focused on praying with the Gospels. You can find out more on Lightworks here.

Men and women of all ages gather together at various parishes across the Diocese of Arlington, and meet in groups that speak Vietnamese, Korean, and English.

Here is what folks had to say about Lightworks this year:

  • “[I] feel more intimate with the Bible.”
  • “Prayer became a habit in every day life.”
  • “Sharing and listening in the group became spiritual and enriched.”

Rob, who attends with his wife , shared:

“My wife Maria is a veteran of Lightworks and asked me to participate with her.  I agreed because I thought it would be something good for us to do together.  I’m glad I did.  I look forward to it every Monday night now.  Liem, our leader is great!  He adds so much wisdom!

Lightworks gets two thumbs up from me.  It has been a real positive experience for my wife as well, as she has participated several times.

The results are in! People who participate in Lightworks have nothing but good words to share!

Check out some photos from this year’s participants:

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Read more on Lightworks:

Celebration of San Pedro Calungsod

On Saturday, April 14, a Mass Celebration honoring the (belated) Feast of San Pedro Calungsod, was held at Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church, in Vienna, VA. The homily was given my Fr. William Metzger, Parochial Vicar. After Mass, a reception was held in the church’s hall.

Read his homily here: Homily by Fr Metzger April 2018

A statue of San Pedro permanently resides at Our lady of Good Counsel School, and was brought out for the celebration of the Eucharist. The school’s religion teacher, Robin Williams, wrote about the the impact of San Pedro’s presence at the school.

San Pedro continues to be an inspiration for the middle school students of Our Lady of Good Counsel! Although the students are now accustomed to the statue of San Pedro in the classroom, they still feel a close connection to the youthful saint who laid down his life for his faith.

Through San Pedro’s example, the students at OLGC realize that even though they are young, they too can do great things – especially while serving our Lord. The students enjoy learning the story of San Pedro and they are amazed to learn that he joined a group of missionaries at the age of 13. San Pedro’s life story gives the students confidence and courage to bring the Good News to all they meet. San Pedro helps the students put their trust in God and to not be afraid to boldly live their faith.

San Pedro has been a blessing to our middle school. What a wonderful example we have for the youth of our parish in San Pedro Calungsod! We are grateful that you have given us such a wonderful gift in allowing us to have the visual reminder of San Pedro in the classroom!

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The statue of San Pedro at OLGC

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Fr. Metzger blesses the meal at the reception following the Mass celebration

 

Filipino Catholics of Arlington Support Students in Need

By Chiqui Sanchez
Fil/Am Community Ministry, Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church

Through our community outreach program, one goal that the Fil/Am Catholic ministry of Our Lady of Good Counsel had been aiming for since its inception was to provide a Filipino student a college scholarship.  Always known to us was the fact that college costs for many of those living in poverty in the Philippines has always been extremely out of reach.  For just a few hundred US dollars a year, we knew we could provide the opportunity for some of our impoverished youth in the Philippines to access a college education.

 

In our continuous search on how this can be achieved, we finally got the opportunity. In March 2016, YSLEP (Youth Servant Leadership and Education Program) through Caritas Manila, was introduced to us by Rev Father Patrick Posey, Pastor at St. James Parish in Falls Church, Virginia who travels to different parts of the world on behalf of the Pontifical Mission Society, Mr. Mike Mele, a Catholic faithful who travels with Fr. Posey, and Ms. Corinne Monogue, Director of the Offices of Multicultural Ministries in the Diocese of Arlington. The three of them traveled to the Philippines in February 2016 and saw for themselves, firsthand, what Caritas Manila and YSLEP were all about. The Fil/Am Community Ministry based at Our Lady of Good Counsel (OLGC) parish invited them to make a presentation to us about YSLEP and Caritas Manila, and as we were informed, they made the presentation to us much in the same way as Caritas Manila presented the program to them when they were in the Philippines.

The program was presented to us far beyond our expectations and we from the Fil/Am Community Ministry were convinced that the scholarship of an impoverished student through YSLEP / Caritas Manila was an initiative that we could take on as one of our advocacies. In faith, we further believed that the Holy Spirit led us to these three individuals for guidance in reinforcing and firming up our intent to take on a scholarship program that has long been in our plans. Our meeting with them concretized our long-time goal to be able to support students in the Philippines.

At this time, we turned to Caritas Manila to break the ground for us and get us to a running start to achieve our goal. Caritas, in turn, obliged us with the logistics on how we could initiate the sponsorship, one student at a time: Caritas gave us what we needed to know, what we needed to do, what information we needed to provide them, and what the entire program entailed that we should know about.

Through our contact with Caritas Manila, our OLGC-based Fil/Am Community Ministry launched our scholarship program in June 2016. Leobert Francisco from Basilan, Isabela in the southern part of the Philippines became our first YSLEP scholar. Leobert belongs to a family whose only source of income is from his father who works as a laborer and an Aunt living with them who is a local market vendor. Leobert has a younger sister who is not yet of school age. Leobert was in his 2nd year of studies in Education at the Claret College when we started supporting him, and we will see him through until he gets his degree in 2019. He hopes to get a job as a secondary school teacher upon his graduation from college.

In 2017, we got a second scholar. Claudine Diaton from the Ifugao region in the northern part of the Philippines belongs to a family comprised of her father who is a rice farmer, her mother, a housekeeper, an older brother who works as a security guard and a sister struggling through her first year in college. Claudine was a rising junior in the Ifugao State University majoring in Agriculture, when we started supporting her. She is expected to finish her Bachelor’s Degree in June 2018, and hopefully, she will find a job after graduation, to help support her family. The Fil/Am Community Ministry will be in a position this coming June to get another scholar through Caritas Manila. We have been in contact with Caritas Manila to give us a list of at least 3 students pursuing a career in Education to choose from. We very much look forward to meet our 3rd scholar.

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 this golden opportunity to serve and we are deeply grateful that we are able to make a difference in the lives of some of our own.

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

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!