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

 

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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.

Holy Family Catholic Church Celebrates Black History

By Emelda August

Our Black History Mass and Potluck Dinner on Saturday, February 24 was a big success. Deacon Gerard-Marie Anthony got a big “Holy Family-welcome-back-home” with a large congregation present for the Mass. Father Bill was in attendance also, for his first Black History Program as our new Priest.

Comments after the service were all very positive stating, “He gave a wonderful homily” and “He did a great job explaining and sharing the great accomplishments of three African Americans into the readings and Gospel.” He highlighted the life and contributions of Servants of God Mother Mary Lange, Rev. Augustine Tolton, and Venerable Pierre Toussaint. They all sacrificed a lot while always obeying God and continuing to do good work. They all made a big impact on the Black community and Church.

St. Joseph’s Gospel Choir supplied beautiful music for the Mass and was enjoyed by all.

After Mass, we held our Annual Potluck Dinner in Fr. Griffin Hall. Deacon Anthony got a chance to meet and greet fellow parishioners who had a chance to talk and share dinner together.

Those in attendance were also able to learn about the Mother of Africa Chapel, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, with a poster that showcased pictures and interesting facts and articles about the significance of all the design elements. 

Praying for Vocations with the St. Therese Society

By Rose Mensah

St. Therese Vocation Society of the Diocese of Arlington held their annual Morning of Reflection to which all were invited, on Saturday February 3, 2018, at St Luke Catholic Church in McLean, Virginia.  About ten members of St Therese’s Society of the Ghana Catholic Community attended the program.

 

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The program started with a nine o’clock morning Mass celebrated by Fr. Anthony Pinizzotto of St. Luke’s parish of McLean, Virginia.  Rev. Fr. Jaffe, Director of Vocations for the Diocese was also in attendance. After Mass, Fr. Jaffe welcomed the attendees, and thanked them for their prayers. A continental breakfast of assorted baked goods, fruits and drinks were served.

The speaker of the conference, Fr.  Anthony Pinizzotto, talked about the importance of prayer, and that prayer should take us out of ourselves in order to serve others.  In his power point presentation, he suggested some ways of promoting vocations in our schools, parishes and in our communities.  Some suggestions were talking to the young kids about vocations during Religious Education Classes and giving encouragement. Also praying for those who are already priests, letting them know that you are praying for them; writing to them, letting them know how you appreciate them bringing us the Sacraments to nourish us and sustain us.

The conference ended with Holy Hour, but before the Holy Hour, St. Therese Society group from the Ghana Community of the Diocese prepared the attendees with songs of praise.

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St. Therese Society of the Ghana Community of Arlington Diocese is going to take action on two things in Fr. Pinizzotto’s presentation: to pray each day for the person listed on the calendar, including the spiritual director of our community, and for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life.  Secondly, the group is going to adopt a seminary in Ghana, and get the youth and children of the community to adopt a seminarian from that seminary and correspond with the seminarian.  The group is going to fund the correspondence project.

Prayer for Vocations

God our Father, through the Immaculate
Heart of Mary, I ask You to bless and
Strengthen the spiritual renewal and vitality
Of all priests, and consecrated religious so
That Your Church may shine with greater
Splendor and bear witness to Your presence
In our world today.  Please inspire many men
And women to respond to Your Son’s call to “Come, follow Me”.
I ask this in Jesus’ Name.

Amen

 

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Black Catholic Day of Reflection and Unity Mass

One highlight of Black Catholic History Month came during the Annual Day of Reflection and Unity Mass at Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church in Vienna, Virginia on November 18, 2017.

The Day of Reflection began with reflections on the experiences had by those who attended the National Black Catholic Congress XII. Next, Msgr. Ray East, Archdiocese of Washington gave the keynote address on missionary discipleship. Bishop Michael Burbidge, Diocese of Arlington, presented the Father Augustus Tolton and Mother Mary Lange award to this year’s recipient, Cecilia Braveboy. Prior to the Mass, there was a Praise and Worship session featuring Gospel hymns such as “Break Every Chain” by Will Reagan, and “I Give Myself Away” by William McDowell. Mass began at 5:00 p.m. and was celebrated by Bishop Roy E. Campbell, Jr, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Washington. Bishop Campbell was also the homilist. After the Mass a reception was held where everyone enjoyed great food and company.

Take a look at the great pictures taken at the Day of Reflection!

Photos Courtesy of Anthony Johnson

Celebrating Black Catholic History Month

Every November, Black Catholic History Month in celebrated across the nation. The Diocese of Arlington, through the Black Catholic Ministry, makes a special effort to recognize and celebrate this month. In Fredericksburg, Virginia, St. Jude Catholic Church honors the month annually with a special Mass celebration. Said Belinda Mattos, who helped organize this year’s celebration:

The Mass went extremely well. We had a great turnout and everyone loved the Ghanaian choir…

On Saturday, November 4, St. Jude Catholic Church in Fredericksburg held its 5th annual commemoration of Black Catholic History Month during the 5:00 pm vigil Mass. Deacon Al Anderson, of St Joseph Catholic Church-Alexandria, assisted the celebrant and St. Jude pastor, Father James Hudgins, and served as the homilist. Deacon Anderson gave a powerful homily carrying the message of humility from the readings and the gospel. The congregation was invited to a reception and Black Catholic History displays after the Mass. St. Jude Catholic Church holds this commemoration at the 5:00pm vigil Mass on the first Saturday of November each year.

Photos Courtesy of Phyllis Johnson

The Challenge is to Silence the Mind

By Deacon Al Anderson, Jr. & Ed Jones

We recently attended the 14th annual National Black Catholic Men’s Conference, held in Miami, FL October 5th – 8th. The conference is presented each year by the Bowman Francis Ministry Project, under the leadership of three Society of Divine Word (SVD) priests: twins Reverend Charles and Chester Smith SVD, and Reverend Rev Ken Hamilton SVD

In answer to the question” Why a Black Catholic Men’s Conference?” the brochure states “We are committed Black men, principally Catholic, who recognize our need for God’s help! We gather in Christ’s presence in an atmosphere of trust, equality and anonymity, to share personal feelings and experiences. We unconditionally accept one another and prayerfully support one another. We feel encouraged by the Holy Spirit to share with one another….. Men to Men!”

The theme of this year’s gathering was “The Challenge is to Silence the Mind”. The goal was to provide a holistic and healthy approach to rid ourselves of the negative “noise” (i.e. self-doubt, low self-esteem, rage, etc.) that inhibits us from successfully contending with the psychological and spiritual warfare that many African American men and boys face in today’s society; to provide tools for effectively dealing with pervasive violence, drugs and mass incarceration.

Fr. Sydney Speaks gave very powerful reflection titled “Authority is in the Air”, at the opening session on Thursday evening. He reminded us that true authority comes only from God and those in positions of authority should use it with a servant’s mentality; glorifying God, rather than themselves. Fr. Sydney also exhorted us to not shy away from the authority that we have been given but to eagerly embrace it; while constantly praying for God’s wisdom and seeking the counsel of our brothers and sisters. He has a very active youth ministry and was the primary speaker at the various youth tracts that were presented at the conference.

Fr. Sydney Speaks

Fr. Sydney Speaks

Each day began with Praise and Worship, led by the dynamic Gospel music group Men in the Fire. Afterwards, there were many excellent workshops and keynote addresses on a wide range of topics including: “The History of Black Catholicism”, by Fr. George Kinitba; “Urban Education in the Black Community” by Dr. Donald Edwards, Ed.D; “All Green/and No Black-Environmental Activism is Social Justice Activism” by Dr. Griena Knight-Davis, LPC; and many, many more (Too many to list here)!

We attended several very good workshops. One that particularly impressed me was titled “The Stigma Associated with African American Male Incarceration” by Dr. Wylie Tidwell, PhD. Dr. Tidwell outlined several root causes, historical and current, of Mass Incarceration in the African American community:

  • Reconstruction after slavery – the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution abolished slavery except as punishment for a crime. Reconstruction also gave birth to Jim Crow laws.
  • Lack of Civic Participation – Placing of barriers, such as gerrymandering, designed to exclude Black folks from participation in the political process.
  • Breakdown of Black Families and Communities
  • Deformation of the Black Church and the rise of impersonal / cold mega churches.

The workshop “Where are all the Black Men”, presented by Msgr. Fredrico Britto addressed concerns faced by many churches regarding male absence from the congregation and church activities.  The presenter stated that the average Black Church is made up of 75% female and 75% elders, which posed the question, “what happened to them?” This spawned a lively and interesting open discussion on possible reasons that may have brought about the lack of participation.  The suggested list of reasons was endless but very insightful and enlightening.   Some suggested approaches to getting them back involved included:

  • Men need to hear other men witness to them about the goodness of Jesus
  • Have men to men support groups that include prayer, Bible study, Men’s Day Program and service to the church
  • Ask them for their help (using their professional skills)
  • Mentoring program, Rites of Passage program

The closing Mass for the Conference was held on Saturday evening at the Notre Dame d’Haiti Mission in the heart of Miami’s “Little Haiti”. Bishop Burchell McPherson, a former pastor of the parish (for 18 yrs.) was the celebrant for the Mass. Concelebrating were many African American and African priest from around the country. Fr. Stephen Brown, SVD gave a rousing homily on the conference theme of “The Challenge is to Silence the Mind”. Men in the Fire provided the music ministry for the Mass. The conference ended on Sunday morning with a Healing and Commissioning Service led by Fr. Hamilton.

We have attended several of these conferences in the past and have always come back renewed and refreshed in the Spirit and given much information and counsel on how to better serve my own diaconal ministry. We look forward to next year!

My Roman Rite

Written by: Daniel Rice, Seminarian

This summer I have had a great deal of exposure to a vast range of cultural traditions, especially with regard to the way in which a large diversity of cultures worship God within His One Church. I have met many people of great joy and devotion to our Lord, people whose differences are good to experience. Yet they are also people whose differences are not as great as their similarities, for we all share one human nature and, on an even deeper and more profound level, are adopted sons and daughters of God, brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. How amazing that, as baptized Christians, we can call God our Father, Abba (loosely translated: dad), through the Holy Spirit, Who has been given to us. In the words of St. John the Beloved and Evangelist, “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (1 John 3:1). Truly, we are all one in Christ.

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This summer has been a fruitful one. I hope that my testimony of vocation has been beneficial for my brothers and sisters in Christ. I know that the experiences I have shared with them have been fruitful for me. One profound way in which this was so is that their various cultural traditions have made me reflect upon my own and grow in my love for it. I am an English-speaking Roman Rite Catholic, and what a blessing to be one! I love the English language, the Roman Rite Mass, and the unique spirituality and spiritualities of Western Catholicism. God has indeed set my heart aflame for the beauty, goodness, and truth of Himself, the Catholic faith, and the Roman tradition.

One amazing part of our liturgical tradition is our amazing sacred music. Our vast array of sung music ranges all the way from Latin chant to English hymnody. One piece of music in particular caught my attention this summer: If Ye Love Me, by Thomas Tallis, a 16th century English composer. I invite you to find the best speakers you can, follow the link, sit back, and listen to this amazing piece of music, reading along with the lyrics:

“If ye love me, keep my commandments, and I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another comforter, that he may ‘bide with you forever, e’en the spirit of truth.” (John 14:15–17)

During my third time listening to this in the office, Kelvin gave me a look and said, “Is that you [playing the music]?” I replied, “Yeah.” He added, “Oh, I thought the angels were coming to get me.”

That’s it right there. This piece of music and so many more draw the heart, mind, and soul to their Creator. Their beauty is apparent, but is not their own. Borrowing several words of St. Augustine, “Their beauty is their confession of God.” They are expressive and formative, giving voice and elegance to our prayer to God as well as teaching us about God. After all, the words in Tallis’ piece are from scripture; they are the words of Christ Himself.

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Mural of (top to bottom) Christ the High Priest, the virtues, several Saints, and the minor orders.  St. Turibius Chapel at the Pontifical College Josephinum.

We also see this beauty in our sacred art and architecture. Seminarians of the Pontifical College Josephinum, the first time they walked into the newly completed St. Turibius chapel, said that it was as if they “had stumbled into paradise.” I was blessed to complete my four years at the Josephinum by seeing the restoration, renovation, and re-dedication of that chapel. It did indeed seem like a sort of paradise, and all of the art intentionally drew the connection between the sacred space, the Mass, and Heaven. It is upon the altars of the Church that we are united to the Pascal mystery and sacrifice of Christ. It is upon the altars of the Church that Heaven and Earth kiss.

There is much more to my cultural tradition than its music, art, and architecture. I feel at home in the structure, prayers, smells, dress, and actions of our liturgy. I experience the words of Scott Hahn, who named one of his books, Rome Sweet Home. Hopefully we may each begin to plumb the depths of the rich faith that has been handed down to us, each through our own cultural traditions.

Thank you to the Office of Multicultural Ministries and all who welcomed me into their communities this summer.

Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us.

Our Lady of Lavang

Written by: Daniel Rice, Seminarian

On August 5, I went to Saint Veronica’s for Mass with Our Lady of LaVang Catholic Vietnamese Community. I was able to serve at the Mass, and the five altar servers guided me with regard to the particular way of serving in that sanctuary. This was quite helpful, for while every sanctuary ought to have the same key features and some similar qualities, each has its own particular character.

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Written in gold half way up the sanctuary wall: “Consider how Veronica saw Him so afflicted and attended and wiped His most holy face.”

At the end of Mass, Father let me speak for a minute or two. I encouraged all present to entrust their vocation to Mary, and (after the inspiration of Pope St. John Paul II) not to be afraid to open wide the doors of their heart to Christ, not to be afraid to follow him on the amazing adventure He has planned for them, not to be afraid to become who they were made to be. After all, God doesn’t just make a person and then draw a blueprint for his life, telling him to follow the directions. Rather, God’s Will, which is Love and Mercy itself, is written on our hearts, is inscribed into our very being. That is the vocation, the calling, that we discover. Your vocation is not what you do, but who you are.

Our Lady of LaVang, pray for us.

Holy Martyrs of Vietnam: An Example to Follow

Written by: Daniel Rice, Seminarian

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On July 23, I had the pleasure of attending Mass at Holy Martyrs of Vietnam in Arlington. I was welcomed by their Pastor, Father Liem Tran, a Dominican priest, and allowed to serve. The church was full, and I was struck not only by the excellence and reverence of the altar boys, but also by the reverence and devotion of all present. In fact, there was a certain similarity between the congregation and the image on the sanctuary wall. Pictured on the wall is an image of the Holy Martyrs of Vietnam, those who had given their whole selves to God, dying for bearing the name of Christ. What a great reminder of who we are called to be.

Whether or not we are called to martyrdom, each of us is called to be a saint, to die to himself each day out of love for Jesus Christ. We need not look for sanctity in some life other than our own. Rather, we can “do small things with great love,” as Mother Teresa says. Whether washing the dishes, getting out of bed, going to work, putting aside some time for prayer, having a conversation with a family member, coworker, or friend, or doing anything else, we are always called to make a total offering of ourselves to God in love. Let us use the Holy Family as an example, Who, in daily life, dwelt with God. After all, Jesus spent 30 years in the simplicity of his home before his three years of ministry and three days of bringing about the Paschal mystery, his passion, death, and resurrection. Let us sanctify our daily lives.

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Back to Holy Martyrs! The choir and instrumental musicians were composed of members of varying ages, and they used their voices, strings, and talents to glorify God. Aside from the choir, the priest and the people chanted much of the Mass. Vietnamese is a tonal language, so it is not a great leap from speaking the language to chanting it. Because of this, the ease and naturalness of these chanted prayers was perceptible.

At the end of Mass, I said a few words about vocation and then greeted the people as they came out of the church. Each handshake was accompanied by a respectful bow of the head, both by the people and by me.

Holy Martyrs of Vietnam, pray for us.