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.

Lightworks: How Christ Fulfills Ancient Customs

By Luke Poczatek

This past Sunday evening, I was able to attend and serve at our Diocese’s annual Lightworks Mass of Thanksgiving. I had no idea what Lightworks, before attending the Mass, but I knew it consisted mostly of our diocesan Vietnamese and Korean Catholic communities. The Mass was a regular English Mass, with the exception of the responsorial psalm and some of the intercessions said in Vietnamese. Still unsure what Lightworks was, we made it close to the end of Mass when before the final blessing, we all sat to listen to testimonies from some of the Lightworks members. They were all talking about how Lightworks helped them grow in a deeper and more intimate relationship with Christ, and really stressed that reading Scripture is one way of praying to God. With the reading of Scripture, they spoke of the practice of Lectio Divina, which is an Ignation method of prayer where one prays with Scripture. One enters into the scenes of the Gospels, or other passages of the Bible, in order to have a unique and beautiful encounter with Christ. Each testimony was powerfully moving, and by each sharing of their experience of prayer, one caught glimpse into their spiritual lives. I saw from them that God is not someone far off and distant, but close and personal.

The next day, I spoke with the Director of the Multicultural Office, Corinne Monogue, about how I was moved by the insight the members of Lightworks had, and how they communicated their relationship with Christ through this type of prayer. Corinne told me that the Lectio Divina method of prayer is positively accepted by these cultures, because it complements well with the ancient methods of Asian meditation, speaking of Confucianism and Buddhism background.  This was awesome to see, and to know how Christ comes to fulfill, here by taking ancient Asian customs and completing them with His blessing and transforming Grace.

Cultural Communities Come Together in the Eucharist

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!

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Rediscovering God Through the Bible

By Anonymous Lightworks Attendee

Lightworks 2018I want to start off by sharing one of my childhood memories. I grew up under a mother who was a hardcore Catholic who demanded me and my brother to spare at least 30 minutes a day praying the rosary. I remember her dragging us into the house from the playground every day, making sure we complete our daily prayers. At such young age, I honestly dreaded those moments, and even wished that she would skip a few days so we could play without interruptions. At one point, my brother and I got clever and started rounding the “Hail Mary’s” to end the prayer quicker. And it went something like this: within a second into me saying “Hail Mary full of grace”, he would jump start his response of “Holy Mary, Mother of God” shortly after, almost sounding like the rounds of “row, row, row your boat”, and we were basically overlapping each other’s prayer parts… you get the picture. Oddly enough, our mother never scolded us or stopped us from speeding up the rosary, which, by the way, we conquered in less than ten minutes, depending on how competitive we wanted to be as to who can say their parts faster. And I used to think it was because the Virgin Mary was on our side, feeling sorry for us, and put some hypnosis on our mother, allowing us to finish the prayer in such speedy mode without her noticing.  Just kidding… I have no idea why she let us do it, but thinking back, I think our Mother was just happy that we sat through the whole seven minutes of rosary.

During our teen years, my brother served as an altar boy, and I was dragged into being an organist for our small Korean Catholic church we attended. My mother glowed with pride and joy. She cried in every mass! And we never skipped Sunday masses! She used to tell me that it is our duty as Christians to serve and take parts in a Catholic community we belong in. So I did, to satisfy her expectation.

Despite my young adult Christian life style, and a religious mother, I have not always been faithful in terms of living by the Catholic rules. I have defied my own religion, doubted God, hated myself and others, and to sum it all, I just stopped going to church all together. I had my reasons and life events that led me to that stage of life during those difficult days. I wandered around, seeking for answers myself, thinking I didn’t have to be in church to be happy…  Among many other thoughts in my head, I basically excused myself from going to church for many years.

Now, fast forwarding to two years ago, my family of five, including three kids, moved to VA from GA. Two months prior to moving, my husband was in a horrific accident with couple of deep lacerations on both sides of his legs, and one that cut through his tendons by his front ankle, which resulted in an emergency operation. This happened while he was packing his office to get ready to move when one of the mirrors broke in half and landed on him. I’ve never seen so much blood in my life. I remember being so scared as I witnessed the entire ordeal, as it happened right in front of my eyes. We were also in the middle of renovating our house to sell when this happened. I felt a strong sense of hopelessness and fear that shaded my conscious. I had nowhere to turn, and no one to turn to. So, I turned to God.  I remember crying hysterically for hours on end.  I prayed and prayed. I prayed every day for his fast recovery so we could get on with our lives. Unfortunately, we had to fix up our house ourselves with no contractors because we had no savings left.  He had to find a way to work around his crutches and casted legs, with a little bit of my help. Lo and behold, after two months of hard work, it finally paid off when our house was sold on the first day it was listed on the market. We even had three solid offers who asked to pay more than the listed price. We made some nifty profit, which helped with moving and living cost of being in a new state. However, I started to worry again when my husband wasn’t finding a job quick enough.

When I started to feel hopeless, God showed his grace and saved us again from this worrisome and gave us a business that my husband was able to run!  I thank God every day for His blessings and so I decided to give back to Him and started going to church more often, as I haven’t been religiously going to mass for many years until we moved here. Life was just hard, but I realized now that God was always with me, and He always answered my prayers. I wanted to give back and started volunteering more at church and joined some prayer groups and actively attended some retreats as well. In the midst of my journey to serving God and giving back, I have met some great friends, who I believe God sent to me. I am very grateful for them because they are the ones who encouraged me to find God again and helped me see through His grace. And that’s how I was introduced to this Lightworks program.

Before the 14-week program, in fact, all my life up to that point, I probably picked up a Bible less than what I can count with my two hands.  I’ve always been intimidated by Bible and didn’t really know how to interpret scriptures where it meant something to me.  Funny thing is, I always had this notion that I must start reading from Genesis in the Old Testament first before I can even explore other chapters.  But the thickness of the Bible and the size of the small fonts really discouraged me to even challenge myself in reading the entire Bible.  It just overwhelmed me more than anything. And coming from an avid reader myself, who can read 500-page novels in just a few days with no-sweat, I should really be ashamed of not being able to complete one entire Bible!  This program made me realize that my approach to the Bible was completely off.  I don’t know why but it never occurred to me that reading the Bible was one of the ways to talk to God and being closer to God, until now.

This program focuses on using “Lectio Divina” method of meditation.  It’s one of the ways to communicate with God and to increase the knowledge of His words by using four stages of rules and guidelines when reading Bible verses: read; meditate; pray; and contemplate. This ultimately leads to another stage of “action” where we try to imitate Jesus’ life.

The Bible scriptures we studied and prayed together in this program were from various excerpts ranging from the Old Testament to the New Testament. It was recommended that we read assigned passages daily before the following week. At first, I found it to be a bit challenging because I just didn’t know what to say and share during our weekly meetings. But as I listened to other members in our group sharing their experiences with such candidness and openness, I started to express myself more as time went by. Forming a habit to open the Bible every day, and practicing Lectio Divina, has helped me remind myself that God’s words are truly amazing and that His love is so divinely infinite. I know I still have a lot to learn and that 14 weeks isn’t enough to fully understand His divine nature, but now that I know this program exists, I will be actively seeking to join more sessions in the future. I am so grateful for God’s blessings all my life, even if I realized it late, through this program, I learned how much He loved and protected me all along, how He stood by me in every obstacle of my life. I humbly offer myself to Him today and praise Him for all the grace He bestowed upon me and my family. Thank you God, my Lord Jesus Christ, my Savior! I give all myself to you! Amen.

Welcome Luke!

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…”

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.