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
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.
By Luke Poczatek
On Friday, June 22nd, I had the privilege of serving my first Mass for Multicultural Communities, which took place at St. John Neumann Parish in Reston. The Mass was celebrated by Bishop Burbidge, and concelebrated by the Archbishop of Asmara Eritrea, with 25 other concelebrating priests. The Mass was accompanied by a beautiful choir, which consisted of much cultural diversity. It was incredible to see, that while each community brings its own identity to the Mass, all are united in the Eucharistic sacrifice.
Following the Mass, was an awesome reception with all the different cultures presenting different foods and items from their community. There were also some entertaining performances from the Tamil Indian community, Hispanic community, and a member of the Native American Penobscot Nation. These performances showed the beauty that each of their cultures uniquely possess. The Mass and reception was also blessed to have a strong presence from the Albanian community, which included the President of Albania’s wife and his daughter, the First Lady. They gave an incredible gift to the Albanian Catholic community of our Diocese: a cross containing ten first class relicts of Albanian martyrs!
Overall, I had a great time getting to meet with many of the different communities, and they graciously welcomed me to their table. I was able to officially meet some of the members from the different cultural parishes, which is a good introduction before I start visiting their parishes individually. All of this is bringing excitement to me as I get more involved in the communities at the Multicultural Office this summer, and I look forward to getting to know the different cultures even more.
Check out photos from the Mass and reception!
Please join us in welcoming Luke Poczatek, a seminarian for the Diocese of Arlington, interning for the Office of Multicultural Ministries! Below, find a brief introduction written by Luke!
Seminarian Working for the Multicultural Office
By Luke Poczatek
Hello, my name is Luke Poczatek, and I’m a seminarian for the Diocese of Arlington. I recently completed my fourth year of college seminary at the Pontifical College Josephinum, stationed in Ohio. My seminary formation will continue this fall at St. Charles Borromeo seminary, where I will be doing a Spiritual Year. This year is a preparation year for Theology, where one grows in his prayer life in a particular and powerful way. My home parish is Our Lady of Angels in Woodbridge. For recreation, I enjoy playing basketball, following sports, and spending time with my family.
This summer, I’m working for the Office of Multicultural Ministries. The office will provide me with opportunities for exposure to the different cultural Masses and events in our Diocese. From this I hope to gain a broad picture of our Diocese in all its diversity, and see the unity we all have in this cultural diversity. I greatly look forward to seeing the unique cultures in all their richness, especially in the Mass. In the Mass, one recognizes that Christ draws all together as He says to His Father in John 17:21: “I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one…”