A Sequel to “My Journey in Finding God”

By: Marierose Hoang, Vietnamese Catholic Community

The summer of 2017 is nothing but extraordinary to me. You can have a plan, but at the end it is God who has the final say.

It began on July 1st, when I had the privilege of being part of the delegation led by Bishop Burbidge of the Diocese of Arlington, VA at The Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel, a gathering convened by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Following this conference, with a more in-depth understanding of what it means to be a missionary disciple, I embarked on my 3rd year mission back to a Danang, Vietnam.

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What a surprise: Welcoming banner to the participants of the 2017 Montessori Education training session.

At my first training session, I was met by 75 eager and enthusiastic sisters of St. Paul de Chartres, who are mostly from southern Vietnam. In the first two days, my daily prayers consisted of: “God, please help me in fulfilling what you have planned for me, allow me

Marierose Teaching in Vietnam

First day of training

to completely surrender to your will and let the Holy Spirit dwell in me for the next 8 days.” And yes, He was always by my side and the training was received with much joy and appreciation. And I cannot do this alone. There is a whole community supporting me from behind and they are the hosting sisters of Thanh Tam congregation in Danang (only 8 of them), with the mission of showing “compassion for suffering people – above all to women and the poorest of the poor – by sharing in the teaching and health care mission of the Church”. They have contributed greatly to this success.

I was unknowingly provided with the means to respond to the radical call to missionary discipleship. Vietnam is a communist country of which there is no God. Trying to reinstate the core values of the Catholic faith there on your own, will only bring headache, disappointment and risk of being expelled.

The sisters of St. Paul de Chartres at Thanh Tam are an evangelizing community and truly embody “a community of missionary disciples who take the first step, who are involved and supportive, who bear fruit and rejoice.” An evangelizing community knows that the Lord has taken the initiative, he has loved us first (cf. 1 Jn 4:19) and therefore we can move forward, boldly take the initiative, go out to others, seek those who have fallen away, stand at the crossroads and welcome the outcast. The disciple is ready to put his or her whole life on the line, even to accepting martyrdom, in bearing witness to Jesus Christ, yet the goal is not to make enemies but to see God’s word accepted and its capacity for liberation and renewal revealed.

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The Lord sent me to this community and step by step has unveiled his intentions. Many times I have asked myself what is the purpose of my earthly existence. I have learned that the purpose is to collaborate with the sisters in their teaching mission of the Church, a church that goes forth to everyone without exception (E.G. 48). If the whole Church takes up this missionary impulse, she has to go forth to everyone without exception. But to whom should she go to first? When we read the Gospel we find a clear indication: not so much our friends and wealthy neighbors, but above all the poor and the sick, those who are usually despised and overlooked, “those who cannot repay you” (Lk 14:14). In Vietnam, the handicapped children, especially from poor families have been on the margins of society. They are considered the outcasts, the parasites of society. And if they were lucky enough to have some care, it is only for the benefits of certain people taking advantage of their situation.

Children playing in Vietnam - Marierose

Hearing impaired children learning about the continent of Asia

Going to the peripheries: E.G. 20

  1. The word of God constantly shows us how the Lord challenges those who believe in him “to go forth.” Abraham received the call to set out for a new land (cf. Gen 12:1-3). Moses heard God’s call: “Go, I send you” (Ex 3:10) and led the people towards the promised land (cf. Ex 3:17). To Jeremiah God says: “To all whom I send you, you shall go” (Jer 1:7). In our day, Jesus’s command to “go and make disciples” echoes in the changing scenarios and ever new challenges of the Church’s mission of evangelization, and all of us are called to take part in this new mission of “going forth.”Each Christian and community must discern their own path, but all of us are asked to obey the Lord’s call to go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all of the “peripheries” in the light of the Gospel. For most of the Vietnamese Americans who have left the country when the war ended, the hope of going back is very remote. It is remote not because they are not allowed to come back, but more due to resentment and mistrust of a government thriving on corruption and in a “throwaway culture.” Sandwiched between a generation of boat people who have risked their lives and vowed  never to come back and a new generation totally American unable to make sense out of this fierce conviction, the call to come back to lend a hand is not an easy answer. Many times my husband and I have been accused of being pro communist.The Lord has led me to the sisters of St. Paul de Chartres. By his Will, I was able to humbly  assist the sisters in providing a new insight to the educational system for these less fortunate children. With constant prayers and guided by the Holy Spirit, we have started slowly re-instituting  the core values of Catholic teaching in their daily school activities. The training of the teacher is far more than learning ideas. It includes the training of character. It is a preparation of the spirit. Just as Saint Pope John XXI said:

“It is possible to see a clear analogy between the Shepherd in the Church and that of the prudent and generous educator in the Montessori method, who with tenderness, with love and with a wise evaluation of gifts, knows how to discover and bring to light the most hidden virtues and capacities of the child.”

From the start in summer of 2015 at Thanh Tâm Special Education Center to this summer of 2017, it has been quite a journey filled with Joy and Gratitude. The seed of spreading the Montessori Education to the less fortunate children in Vietnam has started to grow. It takes good soil, with good seed that is well tended by an attentive gardener. Without these we cannot expect a crop to grow and produce abundant fruit. (Matthew 13:2)

It is still a continuing journey in which I hope the call to be a missionary disciple will stay in me for the remainder of my life on earth.

Sisters in Vietnam - Marierose

Presenting an original peace ceremony activity: one special component of the Montessori curriculum: Peace Education

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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!

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.

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!

Recap: First Annual Multicultural Choral Concert

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Photo taken by Mr. Tuyen and Mr. Thao

This past April, the Office of Multicultural Ministries held its first annual Multicultural Choral Concert! Hosted by Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria, VA, the concert featured various choirs throughout our Diocese from all different cultures. The participating choirs were as follows: Filipino Serenata Choir from Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, Ghana Catholic Community Choir from Queen of Apostles Parish, Heartsongs: Tam Tinh Ca, Hispanic Charismatic Choir from Good Shepherd Parish, Holy Martyrs of Vietnam Combined Choir, St. Joseph Gospel Choir, and St. Paul Chung Korean Choir.

Callie 6 - Multicultural Choral Concert

Photo taken by Mrs. Phyllis L. Johnson

Each choir performed at least two songs, including the Finale song, Celtic Alleluia by Christopher Walker, which was sung collaboratively by all of the choirs. The entire concert was a beautiful event, showcasing just a few of the many ethnic cultures that are so prevalent in the Diocese of Arlington. The Bishop Ireton students were very involved with the concert, as well – students whose cultural diversity represented each of the performing choirs would introduce a choir before they took the stage. This was the first time our office directly collaborated with Bishop Ireton High School, and it was a major success! Bishop Ireton has already started to plan for the second annual Multicultural Choral Concert in their state-of-the-art auditorium for April 2016. We look forward to seeing you all there!

Korean women with drums

Photo taken by Mr. Tuyen and Mr. Thao

To view some footage of this year’s Multicultural Choral Concert, watch the video below, filmed by Mr. Ed Jones of the Black Catholic Community.

The Asian and Pacific Island Catholics for Mary 13th Annual Pilgrimage (May 2nd, 2015)

Written by: Marierose Hoang

What is a better way to start the month of May, a month dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, than joining the Asian and Pacific Island Catholics for Mary annual pilgrimage to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC.

It started with a beautiful morning with much anticipation as I joined other members of the Holy Martyrs of Vietnam parish in Arlington on a hired school bus for a 45 minute ride.  We were one of the first groups to arrive at the Basilica and were promptly greeted by a jubilant Rev. Msgr. Vito A Buonanno (Director of Pilgrimages) whom at first I did not even recognize.  There was a sense of a true pilgrimage as we gathered on the side steps of the Basilica for a quick banh mi thit (traditional Vietnamese Pork Roll Sandwich) lunch. Happy faces were everywhere.

I am particularly proud of our youth group, clad in their brand new traditional Vietnamese outfits, which performed the pilgrimage’s opening Welcoming Drums.  There were close to 20 different processions with more than 10 Asian and Pacific Island churches and communities coming as far as North Carolina and New York.  The atmosphere was filled with excitement but nevertheless still remained solemn as each procession entered the sanctuary.  I cannot help but feel so elated, joyful and grateful for being able to partake in this special annual event.  From the Call to Prayer (Sacred songs and movements) to the Rosary recited and led by different communities, the pilgrimage truly reflects an unprecedented united front for all Asian and Pacific Island Catholics.  The Mass was celebrated by the newly appointed auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Washington, Bishop Mario E. Dorsonvile and joined by many members of the clergy. The wonderful performance of the children choir of Our Lady of Viet Nam Catholic Church, Maryland added to the richness of our diverse Asian community.

This 13th Asian and Pacific Island Catholics for Mary Pilgrimage so well attended, it truly served as a testimony of our devotion to the Blessed Mother.  It was a true testament that our Catholic faith is alive and growing!

*All photos in this post are property of the Archdiocese of Washington

The Office of Multicultural Ministries Takes On the March for Life!

The Office of Multicultural Ministries joined the hundreds of thousands of protesters who marched on the streets of Washington, D.C. on January 22, for the annual “March for Life” pro-life event. March for Life is held annually around January 22, the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision, Roe vs. Wade, which legalized abortion in the United States. Thus, the March for Life unites protesters and advocates from all over the country in a fight to defend human life, making it the biggest and most popular pro-life event in the U.S.

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But the March, itself, is not the only event held in honor of the nearly 56 million abortions that have occurred since the Roe vs. Wade decision in 1973[1]. Various Masses and rallies are held in the days leading up to the March, including Masses at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and the Verizon Center. Our diocesan office of Youth Ministry, held two (HUGE) Life is Very Good pre-events at George Mason University’s Patriot Center, which both were sold-out events (seating 10,000 people – mostly youth) in preparation for the March. These Life is Very Good events are the hottest ticket in town, are a must attend, and tickets sell out quickly. Check out our Youth Ministry Life is Very Good Video: 

 

But the March, itself, ultimately brought out the largest number of people – from babies to the elderly, and of many cultures and races. As Jeanne Monahan-Mancini, president of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, claimed, “We have come to represent the unborn that cannot speak for themselves. We have come to celebrate life… We have come to tell the world that abortion is evil and destroys innocent lives. It has to stop.” [2]

While our Office participated in the March for Life, so did many of our Ministries! We found Phyllis Johnson and Michele Jones from the Black Catholic Ministry, who also came along with Deacon Al Anderson and his wife, Beverly. Many from our Vietnamese Catholic Communities came out to march, as well, including Lieu Nguyen and Liem Le. We were incredibly lucky to see as many friendly faces as we did, and to have such beautiful weather.

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The Office of Multicultural Ministries with Phyllis Johnson and Michele Jones.

 

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Deacon Al and Beverly Anderson at the March for Life.

 

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Lieu Nguyen and other pro-life advocates in front of the Supreme Court Building

 

We would love to capture more of our diocesan Multicultural diversity at the 2016 March for Life. Mark your calendars and join us next year as we continue to defend life from conception to natural death.

Sources:

[1] http://www.lifenews.com/2014/01/12/56662169-abortions-in-america-since-roe-vs-wade-in-1973/

[2] http://panampost.com/adriana-peralta/2015/01/26/anti-abortion-march-for-life-rallies-200000-in-dc/

New Pastor at Holy Martyrs of Vietnam

Written by: Marierose Hoang

The Holy Martyrs of Vietnam Catholic Church congregation in Arlington, VA
rejoiced in welcoming our new pastor, Father Peter Huong Pham, OP at a transition Mass on Sunday, September 14, 2014.

A few highlights on Father Peter Pham:

Father Peter Huong Pham was born in Tho Xuan, Thanh Hoa, Vietnam on September 12, 1952 and attendNew Pastor - Fr. Peter Phamed Vinh Son Liem high school in Go Vap Vietnam.  He studied philosophy and theology at the Dominican House of Studies in Thu Duc, Vietnam and has worked at a refugee camp in Palawan, Philippines (1965-1982).

He was ordained a priest at St. Vinh Son Liem Church in Calgary, Alberta, Canada by Bishop Paul O’ Burn on July 28, 1985.

After obtaining a Doctorate in Sacred Theology (STD) at St Thomas Aquinas University in Rome, Italy and a Master’s Degree in Psychological Education in Calgary, AB, Canada, Father Pham served as the director of Vocation of the St. Vinh Son Liem Vicariate (1990-1993).

Father Pham was the editor-in-chief of the quarterly Veritas Magazine (Tap San Chan Ly), an official organ of the Vietnamese Dominican Regional Vicariate of North America and Overseas (1993-1998).

Father Pham served as a Theology professor at the Dominican College in Go Vap, the Institute for Dominican Sisters in Phu Nhuan, and the Nguyen Van Binh Institute for all Religious Sisters and Nuns in Vietnam (1998-2003).

While serving as Prior at the St Martin De Porres Housefriary in Vancouver BC, Canada, Fr. Peter Pham was pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Vancouver, BC, Canada and served as the President of the Clergy and Religious Federation of Western Canada (2004-2010).

As Pastor of the Church of The Vietnamese Martyrs ( Cac Thanh Tu Dao Vietnam) Parish in Richmond, VA, Father Pham also served as the Vice President of the Federation of the Vietnamese Catholics of the US Mid- Atlantic Region (2010-2014).

Holy Martyrs of Vietnam Celebrates 35 Years

Written by: Marierose Hoang

The Holy Martyrs of Vietnam Church in Arlington, VA celebrated its 35th anniversary on September 6-7, 2014. The weekend celebration included several Masses celebrated by former pastors of the parish, two lecture/panel discussions (The Holy Martyrs of Vietnam and the formation of the Vietnamese faith; Direction of the Vietnamese Youth in the USA), a variety concert on Saturday, and a celebratory Mass followed by an outdoor picnic party on Sunday. An abundance of parishioners and special guests were in attendance to celebrate this joyful event. Grace and Unity were the chosen themes for this event.

The celebratory mass on Sunday was celebrated by the Auxiliary Bishop of Toronto, Canada, Most Reverend Vincent Nguyen Manh Hieu.

“With bountiful grace bestowed to our parish during the last 35 years, with deep gratitude to our Heavenly Father, to those who have helped to establish this parish, have been and continued to be the living cornerstones of this community,” Father Peter Hoang Van Thien, OP, said in a written statement to the parishioners, “Upon all, let us remember to live with the words of Pope St. John XXIII: “in essentials, unity; in doubtful matters, liberty; in all things, charity.

A parish history DVD was also developed by committee members.

Holy Martyrs of Vietnam was founded in January 1976. The church was dedicated on August 19, 1979 by Bishop Thomas J. Welsh under the name of “Blessed Vietnamese Martyrs” in Annandale, VA. In July 1985, the church was moved to the current location in Arlington, VA and underwent some renovations. The first Mass was celebrated on March 15, 1989.

The English parish name was changed to The Holy Martyrs of Vietnam Catholic Church by Bishop Keating of Arlington, following a petition of Father Tran Binh Trong on the occasion of the canonization of the 117 Vietnamese Martyrs on January 24, 1989.