Filipino Faith, Fellowship, Food, and Foto

By Daniel Rice, Seminarian

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Saint Bernadette and Our Lady of Lourdes

This past Saturday evening, I attended the Filipino Vigil Mass for Corpus Christi (the Body of Christ) at St. Bernadette Catholic Church in Springfield, where over 100 Filipinos come to celebrate Mass every 3rd Saturday at 7:30 PM. While most of the community knows Tagalog (the principle language of the Philippines), all of them know English, the language in which I was greeted at once. After meeting several people—a few too many to remember all their names—I went to the Sacristy to prepare to serve. The previous altar servers of this Filipino Catholic Community have graduated high school and are now in college, so two young altar boys have risen to take their place and serve in God’s holy sanctuary. I gave them some pointers and helped to direct them throughout the Mass.  They seemed to look forward to the opportunity for an altar server training session, which I hope to provide for them later this summer.

Father Magat joked that this will be my most English-speaking multicultural experience in the diocese, and I expect so! All of my interactions with these immensely friendly people were in English, making it very easy to communicate with them.  Even most of the Mass was in English, all except some hymns and Mass parts (the Creed, Our Father, Sanctus, etc.), which were in Tagalog and led by a choir. I learned the meaning of only one Tagalog word, the one for “faith,” which Father spoke about in his homily—this Corpus Christi homily was so excellent that I wish I could recount it here in its entirety! Father said that when we come forward to receive the Body of Christ and say “Amen,” we are not merely saying, “I believe.” Even the demons believe that the Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, and they cower in fear. “Amen” means, “so be it;” it means the same thing as the Tagalog word for “faith”: not only belief, but a willingness to stake my life on this truth and a determination that my life will reflect this great mystery that I receive. The saints, many of whom died to protect the Eucharist, had this faith.  Take, for example, the faith of Saints Lorenzo Ruiz and Pedro Calungsod, the first two Filipinos to be canonized.

20170617_205322.jpgAfter our minds were nourished with the Word of God, our souls and bodies were fed with heavenly delights, the Bread of Angels, Jesus Christ Himself. Once the Mass had concluded, I encountered the Filipino love for “fotos” and food, smiling for numerous pictures and joining a group of 20+ Filipinos for their post-Mass tradition: Chinese dinner at Golden Hong Kong. What a fitting end to a good evening: pleasing food, humorous story-telling, and joyful conversation.

“Making Us Holy”

By Daniel Rice, Seminarian

from online

An Eritrean Ge’ez Rite Mass at Holy Spirit Parish

On Saturday, I attended Mass in honor of St. Michael with the Medhanie Alem Ge’ez Rite Eritrean Catholic Community of the Diocese of Arlington, which meets at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Annandale. This group was smaller than the usual community that attends weekly Mass on Sundays, since these Eritrean Catholics were only those from a specific village in Eritrea.

I arrived at the Church early, and the first thing that struck me was the way the Eritrean people greeted one another. Their faces and smiles radiant with joy, they greeted one another as if the best of friends not seen in a long time. Each one said to the other, “Selam” (which literally means, “Peace”), and kissed him, rhythmically placing his own head next to his friend’s as if in a reverent bow. I recalled the words of St. Paul, “Greet one another with a holy kiss” (Rom 16:16; 2 Cor 13:12; cf. 1 Pet 5:14). As the time for the liturgy approached, more people came and all conversed in Tigrinya, the native Eritrean language, enjoying the reunion so much that the liturgy began almost half an hour late. I introduced myself to a few people, but felt like I had come to a foreign country on my own, not looking like or speaking like these people who know each other so well, many of them being relatives of one kind or another. A few men of the community kindly welcomed me and conversed with me in English. Nevertheless, Tigrinya made me a complete stranger; but later on, when I learned the name of the liturgy, it became a great source of encounter with Eritrean Catholic Culture.

I knew that most Eastern Catholic Rites, although they celebrate the same Holy Sacrifice as Roman Catholics, do not call their liturgy the “Mass” (after all, the name “Mass” comes from the concluding words of the Mass in Latin: “Ite, misa est,” “Go, it is sent”). A man named Shum, who graciously guided me through the entire liturgy, explained to me that in Tigrinya there is a word used for God that means, “Holy One.” The name of their liturgy is the verb form of this noun, which—although it has no direct translation—basically means, “making us holy.” Thus, the very name of their liturgy communicates the reality that we ourselves are not holy without God and that we cannot make ourselves holy; rather, He Who is all Holy and the source of all holiness makes us holy.

20170617_103103.jpgThe whole liturgy had an aura of sacredness. Most of the women, dressed in traditional Eritrean garb, had their heads veiled. Even more important and significant than the elegant beauty of these clothes was their highest purpose: reverence for Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist. The whole liturgy was sung in Eastern Chant, which, because of its style, was evidence to me of Eritrea’s geographical and linguistic proximity to the Middle East. Thus, the sacred words were communicated a way that was fitting for the mystery being celebrated and that urged the heart to cry out with Christ, “Abba, Father.” At a few points in the liturgy, the women uttered high-pitched ululations, trilling with their tongues in highest praise of God. Most of the liturgy was in Ge’ez, which, like Latin, is an ancient language that used to be common, but is now only spoken within the Church. Since the second Vatican Council, the vernacular (Tigrinya) has also been inserted for a few parts of the liturgy.

20170617_141047.jpgThe liturgy lasted a few minutes less than two hours.  Father Hagos had to chant less elaborately and rush the liturgy this much because the church needed to be used for another liturgy scheduled to be after their own. (Hearing how and why they were “rushing” their liturgy made me wonder about how and why some English Masses are rushed.) The gathering afterward, however, was not rushed: four hours of eating Eritrean food (delicious!), talking, speeches, singing, and dancing, clapping and stepping with the music. In this way, these people, many of whom came to American to flee from war with Ethiopia, have preserved their Catholic culture and traditions. Hopefully, these traditions will continue to be passed down to their children, most of whom speak Tigrinya and English.

Many thanks to Fr. Hagos and the Eritrean Catholic Community of the Diocese of Arlington, and may God continue to bless you!

Welcoming Seminarian Daniel Rice to the Office of Multicultural Ministries

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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.

Hello!  I am Daniel Rice, a seminarian for our Diocese of Arlington.  I entered seminary right after graduating high school, and I just finished my fourth year of seminary at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy.  I have five years of seminary formation remaining, the next of which is a spiritual year at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  During this year I will be on a technology fast, have classes on Scripture, the Catechism, Spiritual classes, etc., go on retreats, live in community, and do many other things to focus on interiority with the heart of Christ.  I was born and raised in Chantilly, Virginia, and St. Timothy’s is my beloved home parish.  I love to sing, read good books, play sports, hike, and do almost anything athletic or outdoors.

Daniel-Rice (4) mycropped.jpgThis Summer I am living at Blessed Sacrament Parish and working in the Office of Multicultural Ministries here in the diocese.  Our mission is to serve the pastoral needs of the various ethnic communities within the Diocese of Arlington (of which there are many, e.g., Hispanic, Filipino, African-American, Korean, Brazilian, Vietnamese, Ghanaian, Eritrean, Cameroon, and Asian and Pacific Islander), to serve as a resource to newcomers, and to evangelize with communion and solidarity.  I hope to visit as many of these communities as possible during the summer, serve in whatever capacity I can, be present as a seminarian of the diocese, and obtain a greater understanding of the diocese as a whole.

Seal of Office of Multicultural Ministries.jpegAfter I visit these communities, I will be posting short entries on this blog about my experiences.  So check in occasionally and hopefully you can learn more about the diocese with me.  Also, know that all of the communities I will be visiting and the events I will attend are open to everyone!  As my work this summer begins, please join me in praying for the whole people of the Diocese of Arlington.

A Lenten Message from Pope Francis

As we prepare ourselves for Lent, we wish to share with you the Holy Father’s Lenten message. In his message, Pope Francis asks us to recall the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. Pope Francis offers three lessons learned when reflecting on this parable:

  1. The other person is a gift 
    The parable begins by presenting its two main characters. The poor man is described in greater detail: he is wretched and lacks the strength even to stand. Lying before the door of the rich man, he fed on the crumbs falling from his table. His body is full of sores and dogs come to lick his wounds (cf. vv. 20-21). The picture is one of great misery; it portrays a man disgraced and pitiful.

    The scene is even more dramatic if we consider that the poor man is called Lazarus: a name full of promise, which literally means God helps. This character is not anonymous. His features are clearly delineated and he appears as an individual with his own story. While practically invisible to the rich man, we see and know him as someone familiar. He becomes a face, and as such, a gift, a priceless treasure, a human being whom God loves and cares for, despite his concrete condition as an outcast (cf. Homily, 8 January 2016).

    Lazarus teaches us that other persons are a gift. A right relationship with people consists in gratefully recognizing their value. Even the poor person at the door of the rich is not a nuisance, but a summons to conversion and to change. The parable first invites us to open the doors of our heart to others because each person is a gift, whether it be our neighbour or an anonymous pauper. Lent is a favourable season for opening the doors to all those in need and recognizing in them the face of Christ. Each of us meets people like this every day. Each life that we encounter is a gift deserving acceptance, respect and love. The word of God helps us to open our eyes to welcome and love life, especially when it is weak and vulnerable. But in order to do this, we have to take seriously what the Gospel tells us about the rich man.

  2. Sin blinds us
    The parable is unsparing in its description of the contradictions associated with the rich man (cf. v. 19). Unlike poor Lazarus, he does not have a name; he is simply called “a rich man”. His opulence was seen in his extravagant and expensive robes. Purple cloth was even more precious than silver and gold, and was thus reserved to divinities (cf. Jer 10:9) and kings (cf. Jg 8:26), while fine linen gave one an almost sacred character. The man was clearly ostentatious about his wealth, and in the habit of displaying it daily: “He feasted sumptuously every day” (v. 19). In him we can catch a dramatic glimpse of the corruption of sin, which progresses in three successive stages: love of money, vanity and pride (cf. Homily, 20 September 2013).

    The Apostle Paul tells us that “the love of money is the root of all evils” (1 Tim 6:10). It is the main cause of corruption and a source of envy, strife and suspicion. Money can come to dominate us, even to the point of becoming a tyrannical idol (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 55). Instead of being an instrument at our service for doing good and showing solidarity towards others, money can chain us and the entire world to a selfish logic that leaves no room for love and hinders peace.

    The parable then shows that the rich man’s greed makes him vain. His personality finds expression in appearances, in showing others what he can do. But his appearance masks an interior emptiness. His life is a prisoner to outward appearances, to the most superficial and fleeting aspects of existence (cf. ibid., 62).

    The lowest rung of this moral degradation is pride. The rich man dresses like a king and acts like a god, forgetting that he is merely mortal. For those corrupted by love of riches, nothing exists beyond their own ego. Those around them do not come into their line of sight. The result of attachment to money is a sort of blindness. The rich man does not see the poor man who is starving, hurting, lying at his door.

    Looking at this character, we can understand why the Gospel so bluntly condemns the love of money: “No one can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or be attached to the first and despise the second. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money” (Mt 6:24).

    To read the final lesson learned in Pope Francis’s Lenten message, click here.

     

    (Source: Message of His Holiness Pope Francis for Lent 2017, From the Vatican, 18 October 2016, Libreria Editrice Vaticana)

     

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!

Give All to God

By: Michael Folmar, Seminarian

Eritrean - Michael Folmar with Yordanos and MichaelThis past weekend I went to my home parish of Holy Spirit, in Annandale, to attend a Ge’ez Rite Eritrean Mass. This is one of the Eastern Rites that we have in our beautifully diverse Church. I happened to come on a good Sunday because there was a baptism after the homily. This made the day that much more special. To top it off, Mass was filled with exuberant praise for our Lord. The entire Mass was chanted in a very Eritrean - Communion Distributiondistinct way that is very characteristic of the Ge’ez Rite. This amazing chanting was not only unique, but also very meditative. It was obvious that everyone present had truly entered into the Mass. This is what we are to do every time we go to Mass. We are to actively participate and praise God with our full being. We need to give God all we have, for He has given us everything. Nothing we have can truly be done, or obtained, by ourselves. It is only “right and just” that we, in return, give all we have back to God in thanksgiving Eritrean - Michael Folmar with priests etcfor all of His blessings – seen and unseen, known and unknown. God never ceases to bless us whether we realize it or not. May we too never cease to give Him glory and honor.

A special thank you to Fr. John O’Donohue, pastor of Holy Spirit (https.holyspiritchurch.us), as well as to Fr. Hagos Tesfagabir, Spiritual Director for the Medhanie Alem Ge’ez Rite Eritrean Catholic Community.

The Importance of Mom

Vietnamese - Michael Folmar at Basilica for Vietnamese PilgrimageBy: Michael Folmar, Seminarian

This past Saturday, July 23rd, there was a pilgrimage for the 10th Anniversary Celebration of the Our Lady of La Vang Chapel at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. In Vietnamese culture, the mother plays a very prominentphoto5 role. Thus, it is no wonder that they have a deep and rooted devotion to Our Lady under the title of Our Lady of La Vang. This devotion started when Our Blessed Mother began to appear to Vietnamese Catholics in 1798 when they were undergoing persecution. A key message from Our Lady of La Vang was to truly live life driven by a deep love for God; to be not only willing, but also ready, to suffer any type of oppression and ill-treatment in honor of Him. In addition, Our Lady of La Vang encouraged them to persevere in faith. Moving forward to 1988, 117 Vietnamese martyrs were canonized by St. John Paul II. Of these martyrs, fourteen of them have relics here, in the Our Lady of La Vang Chapel at the Basilica.

Vietnamese - Michael Folmar with Fr. ChungBack to Saturday’s pilgrimage, this celebration had me traveling with the Vietnamese Choir of Holy Martyrs of Vietnam parish in Arlington. To make this day special, children performed two dances in honor of Our Blessed Mother. There was even a Marian procession into the front doors of the Basilica that was accompanied with Vietnamese hymns and a statue of Our Lady. Mass was well attended by Vietnamese people from all over the United States of America. Some even came as far as California, Texas, and Florida. To round off this pilgrimage, at the end of Mass, we all processed down to the Chapel of Our Lady of La Vang and sang more hymns.

Vietnamese - Michael Folmar with Christina TrinhAfter joining the Vietnamese Community for this special celebration, I decided to serve Mass over at Holy Martyrs of Vietnam (www.cttdva.com) the next day. Overall, this past weekend made me once more realize the importance of staying close to Our Blessed Mother. She always leads us closer to her Son, Jesus, and never ceases to aid and assist us on our challenging pilgrimage to our heavenly homeland. If we want to stay on the path to eternal glory, we must remain close to her. She will not let us perish and will always help us through thick and thin. Mom always knows what is best, and how more so is this true with Our Blessed Mother. Our Lady of La Vang, pray for us.

A special thank you to Fr. John Son Hoang, O.P. of Holy Martyrs of Vietnam parish, as well as fellow parishioner Christina Trinh, who assisted me in making this weekend possible.

The Syro-Malabar Rite

By: Michael Folmar, Seminarian

Syro-Malabar Michael Folmar n JophyOn Sunday, July 10th I served my first Mass in the Syro-Malabar Rite Tradition (www.stthomasdiocese.org). Thanks to Father Christopher Mould, pastor of St. Andrew the Apostle Catholic Church in Clifton, this community recently moved to his parish, which is where I traveled the previous weekend to attend Mass. This flock of about 150 families is cared for by Father Justin Puthussery, who guided me through the Mass. As I witnessed with various African Masses that I attended earlier this summer (see my previous blogs for more information), there was more singing involved – especially by the priest. These Indian hymns, as well as Indian chants, enhanced the Rite. Moreover, the altar servers participated more by having a greater vocal presence. Although Mass was in their native language, Syro-Malabar TAKE 2 Michael Folmar n Fr. JustinI was able to follow along, as it was very similar to our Roman Rite. At the end of Mass, we had Eucharistic Benediction to further strengthen this community for the upcoming week.

Mass for the Syro-Malabar Community is held at St. Andrew the Apostle Catholic Church every Sunday at 4:30 p.m. If you have never attended Mass in a Rite other than the Roman Rite in our Catholic Church, this is a good one to start with!

 

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass: What Unites Us

By: Michael Folmar, Seminarian

Korean- Moonja, Michael Folmar (bright)Although I have never been to Korea before, I experienced the closest thing to it this past weekend. I was privileged to attend Mass at St. Paul Chung Korean Catholic Church in Fairfax (www.stpaulchung.org). This parish is home to thousands of Korean Catholics that are in the Northern Virginia area. When I arrived at St. Paul Chung parish, I was greeted by confused stares mixed with friendly faces. I was the only non-Korean in sight, which made me feel out of place at first. As I continued to proceed inside, everything was written in Korean. Luckily for me, however, most things were also provided in English. I was soon welcomed by Moonja Kim, a Korean representative for the Multicultural Council of the Office of Multicultural Ministries. She introduced me to the pastor, Father In Joon Chung, who I would like to thank for having me. Father Chung recommended that I experience Korean- St. Paul Chung Statuethe student (youth) Mass, which took place at 11:40 am. Once it began, I no longer felt like a stranger and immediately felt like a part of their community, even though I was the minority. For, it is the Mass that unites us and no one else can unite the Body as well as Jesus Christ, the Head, can. At this Eucharistic Banquet, I was quite impressed by the number of youth that came. Some of them even played woodwind and string instruments for Mass. As I saw all the youth, it brought to mind that we need to pray for Korean vocations for our Diocese to the priesthood and religious life. This is especially needed at St. Paul Chung because the priests that serve this parish come from Korea. So, they tend to be at St. Paul Chung’s for a few years before returning back to Korea.

At the end of Mass, I was determined to get my photo taken by a picture of Our Lady of Korea. It is always comforting to know that each culture has a special place in their hearts for Our Blessed Mother. After this past weekend, I feel as though I had a taste of Korea and did not even have to leave our Diocese to experience it!Korean (Take 3)- Our Lady of Korea n Michael Folmar

St. Paul Chung Catholic Church holds several Masses on Sunday, including an English Mass at 11:40 a.m. For those who have not yet experienced Mass with the Korean Catholic Community of our Diocese, I would strongly recommend it!

 

Hymns of Praise

By: Michael Folmar, Seminarian

IMG_2805 (1)On July 3, I attended Mass at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Alexandria. St Joseph’s Catholic Church is founded through the Order of the Society of St. Joseph, the Josephites. The Joseph
ites are a religious community of Catholic priests and brothers, who serve the African-American community through the proclamation of the Gospel and their personal witness.When arriving at the Church, do not let the small size —which recently celebrated its centennial anniversary — trick you. Despite its stature, it is overflowing with Christ’s love.

This parish is full of parishioners ready to warmly greet and welcome you. Each month — on the first and third Sunday — the 11 a.m. Mass is filled with the sounds of their renowned Gospel choir. The amazing choir which gave glory and praise to God and left all who entered the Church with immediately have a sense of belonging. After Mass, I felt as if I was leaving a Church dear to my heart.  Thank you to Dcn. Albert Anderson, chairman of the Black Catholic Ministry of our Diocese, and to Fr. Donald Fest, S.S.J., pastor of St. Joseph, for welcoming me at their parish.

Cameroon Picture #2After attending Mass in Alexandria, I made another stop to partake in a Cameroonian Mass. This Mass is only held at 2:45 p.m. on the first Sunday of every month at Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church in Vienna. During the Mass, I found the Cameroonian tradition of the priest elevating the Host and Precious Blood at their respective times during the consecration, while singing a hymn of praise to our God to be truly edifying. A final thank you to Fr. William J. Metzger, O.S.F.S., as well as to all the Oblates of St. Francis De Sales, who administer this parish and George Nformi, who coordinates this Mass. Overall, this past weekend proved to be one of strikingly beautiful music for our Lord.

Michael Folmar is a seminarian for the Catholic Diocese of Arlington. This fall he will enter his third Theology at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg. This summer, Michael is serving as an intern in the Office of Multicultural Ministries. Each week he attends a different Mass and writes about his experience at “United through Diversity: One in Christ”.