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!

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!

Reflection on the Caribbean Catholics of North America Lenten Retreat 2016

Written by: Bernadette Springer

On February 4, I attended a Lenten Retreat organized by the Caribbean Catholics of North America, Inc. (CCNA), an organization set up in response to the call for “Welcoming the Stranger “ by the USCCB. This Retreat is one of the CCNA’s annual events to help support the spiritual growth of Caribbean Catholics and Catholics of Caribbean descent residing in the United States.

The Retreat was held at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Silver Spring, Maryland under the theme, “Merciful like the Father,” and was directed by Rev. Collin Anthony Henriques from Jamaica.

Father Henriques emphasized forgiveness and the need to empathize with people whom we are likely to judge. We were urged to engage people and listen to their story before we cast judgment, so that we can understand their behavior and be more compassionate and forgiving. During one exercise, Father Henriques had each one of us hold a Crucifix and meditate on the love and compassion of God through the offering of His Son, Jesus, even when we did not deserve it.

I found the Retreat to be a very useful experience because one of my Lenten resolutions was to forgive someone whom I had a difficulty in forgiving; after the Retreat I felt more courageous and strengthened in my resolve to forgive. I have been able to forgive the individual and every time negative thoughts come up, I picture the Crucifix and remember God’s compassion and mercy to me for all the times I offend him.

This helped me enter the Easter season with tremendous joy and peace.