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”.  

CHEERFUL GIVERS

By Michael Folmar, Seminarian

Multicultural Mass (serving Ghanaian rice)This past weekend, I attended the diocesan Ghanaian Mass located at Queen of Apostles in Alexandria, which is held every Sunday at 2:00 p.m. Just being present among the Ghana Catholic Community would put a smile on anyone’s face. “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7) and the Ghanaian Community is truly filled with cheerful givers. Their offertory collection was the most joyful collection I have ever witnessed. When it was time to present a sacrificial monetary offering, there was a jubilant procession overflowing with elated music of praise. This served as a nice reminder that when we give something to the Lord, it should be done with gladness and not out of sadness. IMG_7799For it is not about what one is losing; rather, it is about what one is giving to Almighty God, Who is the Giver of all gifts and blessings. I want to thank Father Anthony Appiah, the spiritual director and fellow Ghanaian of this vibrant community, for allowing me to partake in this Mass. Additionally, gratitude to Father Leopoldo Vives, DCJM and the faithful of Queen of Apostles for welcoming this vibrant community into their parish life.   The Ghana Catholic Community has an upcoming festival on Saturday, July 30th, which all are welcome to attend. If you are able to come, it will certainly be worthwhile! Check in on our diocesan website for more information to come.

A Journey Traveling into my Heart with Jesus Christ

Introduction
By Reverend Stefan Starzynski, Hospital Chaplain, Fairfax Innova Hospital,
In Residence at Saint Ambrose Parish, Annandale, VA

Patricia asked me to do the opening prayer for a group called ‘Lightworks’.  I fully expected to do the opening prayer, eat a cookie or two, and say “Hi” to a few people and then be on my merry way.

Right from the start, I felt in my spirit that this was something for me.  This began a “14” week journey with my fellow pilgrims.  I was learning Christian contemplation using the exercises of Saint Ignatius.  Many saints have said that every renewal of the church began with a renewed love for the Holy Word of God.  I believe that is the Truth!

 

Reflections on my Lightworks Experience
3 Years Contemplating the Words of Jesus

Written by: Patricia Butler, St. Ambrose Parishioner

Four years ago, I would have been the most unlikely person to share my Catholic Faith with anyone- let alone write an article reflecting on the Fire in my Heart for Jesus Christ!  And explaining how that Fire was ignited, is the first of many small and wonderful ever-unfolding miracles put in my life by Jesus…

You see, I left the Catholic Church in the 1980’s and I went on an ardent journey searching for God.  Who is God?  What is God?  Where is God?  I read just about every Holy Book of every world religion, trying to find the answers to these questions.  .  .

Then one day in August, 2013, I realized that the Catholic Church was right.  Every thought in our mind, every word spoken and every deed  can either bring us closer to God or push us further away from God.  At that moment of realization – Confession, examination of conscience made sense. I had received Jesus back in my life. What I was soon to discover however, was Jesus had always been with me on my Journey looking for Him!  It was time to discover what Jesus wanted to teach me, when I was born into a Catholic family in 1950.

Relying on Faith and the inspiration I received from the Holy Spirit, I regist
ered as a member of St. Ambrose parish in Annandale, VA.  I went to confession, began attending Sunday Mass regularly and joined the group Jesus, Mary and a Cup of Joe to participate in the parish community life.

One Sunday, I saw a notice in the St. Ambrose Bulletin for Lightworks, by Fr. Joseph Tetlow, SJ.  The notice jumped off the page at me.  I was very interested in learning about Christian Contemplation (the exercises of Saint Ignatius Loyola) with the hope it would deepen my rediscovered Catholic Faith. So, I signed up for the 14 week personal retreat that started in January 2014.  The first 2 weeks, I had a schedule conflict and could not attend the group sessions.  Liem Le, the former President of the Christian Life Community in the USA, scheduled phone calls with me, to go over the materials each week, so I would not miss Sessions 1 and 2.  From the start, I knew in my heart that the spiritual exercises were for me.  The Lightworks journey began with reflections on our lives as gifts from God.  Affirmations that God loves each one of us in an intimate and unique way.  The sessions included scripture passages (words of God’s Love) to pray over and consider, using the techniques of St. Ignatius, taught weekly.  At the group meetings, we would share the Graces that God had given us during week of contemplation, and learn the next lesson – God’s Divine Presence through the scriptures.

All the blessings and graces happened very unexpectedly for me.  While reading the assigned scriptures, listening and talking about the scriptures, I began to feel this wonderful Presence. (A presence you feel when you go to Eucharistic Adoration or receive Holy Communion).  My heart was filled with warmth and love.  God’s Words had become alive for me in my heart.

With this gift from God being given to me, I started to long for more and more of His Presence.  So I began attending Daily Mass, so that I could contemplate the scripture verses of the day (using the Lightworks methods of St. Ignatius) and listen to each of the Father’s talks about the daily readings.

I want to share with you my “Lightworks Session 3 experience” with you.  We were praying to know the Spirit of Life working in the world and in each of us.  While contemplating our assignment,  Isaiah 40: 1-11 in Lightworks manual & various translations in the online Bible Gateway, I realized that the 1599 Geneva Bible translation, was the libretto for Handel’s Messiah, Part 1,which had been part of my musical studies in my youth.  I went online & found the musical version of the Messiah. As I listened to the musical version of our Lightworks assignment, my heart began to open up in a way, I find hard to explain.  The awesome beauty of the music coupled with God’s Words was so amazing!  I got totally lost in the music and in God’s Words.  I found myself playing The Messiah constantly during the entire week, when the music wasn’t playing; the songs were playing in my head, day and night, at home, at work and in the car!  I started to realize that Jesus was teaching me in a personal way the words of Isaiah 40: “the Glory of the Lord shall be revealed to me and to all peoples. All people including myself shall see God’s Love & Glory.  The mouth of God, speaks God’s Words!” God’s Love & Glory is in His Words.

My contemplative prayer experience began to shift from my head to my heart.  I began to discover that God’s love is ever present in my heart. And God’s love is ever present in all hearts and in all creation!  God’s love is all around me. God’s love is in everything.

As we were learning and practicing the wonderful techniques of St. Ignatius, my love experience of Jesus in my heart was deepening.  The contemplations opened my heart’s awareness of Jesus’s love in each moment.  I could hardly wait for the group meetings to share God’s graces.   I looked forward to the group’s sharing and the prayer insights of each participant.

As the weeks progressed, the group’s sharing took on a totally new dimension.  It was as though God’s love in my heart was being amplified through God’s love in everyone else’s heart. Their sharing’s made my heart burn with God’s love. It is hard to describe my group experience. Everything was alive with the fire of God’s love during our group prayer sessions.  My heart, my eyes, my ears and my breath were alive with God’s loving presence.

Following the 2014 Lightworks retreat, I reaped many, many graces: Discovering that Jesus is alive in His Word, that it is Jesus who lives in my heart, discovering how to rest in my heart with the words of Jesus AND experience His Divine Presence during contemplation practices.

After the 2014 Lightworks Retreat, I continued participating in Lightworks 2015, and 2016.  The love experience of Jesus in my heart became stronger and more profound.   Each year, while the material in the manual remained the same, my gifts from Jesus were different.  Like peeling back the layers of an onion, my heart “saw” and “heard” His Words on a new and deeper level.  I found myself falling deeper and deeper in Love with Jesus and falling deeply in Love with my Catholic Faith.

The recognition that it is truly possible to (Philippians 2:5) “let the same mind is in you, that was in Christ Jesus” is incredibly healing.  We do not have to know how to pray, but the Holy Spirit prays within us. (Romans 8:26). We just have to sit with His Word, pray on His Word. Treasuring the presence of His Holy Spirit in our heart.  Sitting in the silence of my heart, praying on His Words, I can go into the depths of my heart. And in my Heart, I find this incredible Peace and Healing Love of Jesus Christ. Jesus share with me your love and blessings- breathing in your Grace, Breathing out your Grace…

In closing, I want to share another wonderful healing which I received as a result of the Lightworks retreat in 2014.  This healing was truly a gift from Jesus to me. I woke up one morning right after the first year.  I realized how happy I was to have come back Home to the Catholic Church. All the burdensome years of doubts & inner conflicts had dissolved into Jesus Christ’s fire of love!  Now, every day, I wonder, how did I ever live this life without my Catholic Faith nourishing me? Strengthening me? And guiding me with the Joy of Jesus?

Today, I am filled with so much gratefulness. I have seen so many participants transform themselves and their lives as a result of the Lightworks Journey. A group Journey learning to Love with Jesus. A Journey where the group realizes, God’s love has always been present.  Jesus is always waiting for us to open up our hearts and take the Journey with HIM.  A personal and group Journey traveling with Jesus who is filling our hearts with the Holy Spirit and the fire of God’s love.  With gratefulness, I invite you to come on the Lightworks Retreat 2017.  Come and discover the wonderful surprises that Jesus has in store for you contemplating His Word. Share in this incredible opportunity to be with God in the silence of your heart, in the presence of Jesus and His Word.  Come on a journey from your head to your heart in prayer, using the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius.  God Bless you. Hope to see you all next year!

Thanks to all the wonderful people who made this Lightworks program possible: Father Andrew Fisher, pastor of St. Ambrose Parish, Corinne Monogue of the Office of Multicultural Ministries of the Diocese of Arlington, Father Joseph Tetlow, S.J., Liem T. Le of the Lightworks Ministry of the Christian Life Community in the USA, and Father Stefan StarzynskI who joined the Lightworks Journey 2016 as a participant in St Ambrose.

 

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!

Reflection on the Caribbean Catholics of North America Lenten Retreat 2016

Written by: Bernadette Springer

On February 4, I attended a Lenten Retreat organized by the Caribbean Catholics of North America, Inc. (CCNA), an organization set up in response to the call for “Welcoming the Stranger “ by the USCCB. This Retreat is one of the CCNA’s annual events to help support the spiritual growth of Caribbean Catholics and Catholics of Caribbean descent residing in the United States.

The Retreat was held at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Silver Spring, Maryland under the theme, “Merciful like the Father,” and was directed by Rev. Collin Anthony Henriques from Jamaica.

Father Henriques emphasized forgiveness and the need to empathize with people whom we are likely to judge. We were urged to engage people and listen to their story before we cast judgment, so that we can understand their behavior and be more compassionate and forgiving. During one exercise, Father Henriques had each one of us hold a Crucifix and meditate on the love and compassion of God through the offering of His Son, Jesus, even when we did not deserve it.

I found the Retreat to be a very useful experience because one of my Lenten resolutions was to forgive someone whom I had a difficulty in forgiving; after the Retreat I felt more courageous and strengthened in my resolve to forgive. I have been able to forgive the individual and every time negative thoughts come up, I picture the Crucifix and remember God’s compassion and mercy to me for all the times I offend him.

This helped me enter the Easter season with tremendous joy and peace.

Feast of San Pedro Calungsod

This past Saturday, April 2, the diocesan Filipino-American community came together at Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church in Vienna to celebrate the Feast Day of San (Saint) Pedro Calungsod, a Filipino Catholic martyr. San Pedro Calungsod was killed as a teenager while doing missionary work in Guam and is now known as the Patron Saint of Filipino youth, altar boys, the Philippines and overseas Filipino workers. San Pedro Calungsod was beatified on March 5, 2000 by Pope John Paul II.

The Principal Celebrant of the Mass in honor of San Pedro Calungsod was Reverend Ramel O. Portula, CICM, and other celebrants included Rev. William J. Metzger, OSFS, and Rev. John Dolan, OSFS. The Serenata Choir from the Our Lady of Good Counsel Filipino-American Ministry sang joyously at the Mass, in their native language of Tagalog.

 

Our Lady of Good Counsel recently installed an icon of San Pedro Calungsod in their middle
school. Ms Robin Williams, a middle school Religion Teacher at Our Lady of Good CounselIMG_2095 Catholic School, shared the impact that the San Pedro Calungsod icon has had on her, personally, “What an inspiration it has been to have the icon of San Pedro in our middle school Religion classroom. The OLGC students relate to San Pedro because of his youthfulness. San Pedro’s stoic actions of ‘teaching the Faith in the midst of hostility’ give our youth courage to do the same. Even though they are not being asked to lay down their lives, they sometimes have to lay down their wills to each the Gospel message. San Pedro is a daily reminder for our students to LIVE JESUS in all the things they say an do. We have been blessed to house the beautiful icon of San Pedro this past year and thank all those who have allowed us the opportunity to come to know San Pedro on a more intimate level.”

The Feast Day of San Pedro Calungsod is on April 2 of every year. Join us next year in celebration of his devout faith and Filipino heritage!

 

Phyllis L. Johnson receives the first Father Augustus Tolton & Mother Mary Lange Service Award!

This past November 2015, the Office of Multicultural Ministries partnered with the Black Catholic Ministries to hold an event entitled, Watering the Garden: Growing Vocations in the Black Catholic Family. Various speakers from across the U.S. came to speak at the event, including Bishop Joseph Perry of the Archdiocese of Chicago, Deacon A. Gerard Jordan, O. Praem., from Daylesford Abbey in Paoli, Pennsylvania, and Father Scott Woods, from the Archdiocese of Washington, and Sister Josita Colbert, Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in Cincinnati, Ohio.

All seven speakers came prepared to speak on a variety of topics relating to vocations within the Black Catholic Family, during this day-long conference. The day ended with our annual Unity Mass, celebrated by Bishop Perry, in which Catholics of African-American, Caribbean, and  African descent gather to celebrate their unity in the Catholic faith.

After Mass, we held a reception for all those who attended the Unity Mass. At the reception, we presented the Father Augustus Tolton & Mother Mary Lange Award to Mrs. Phyllis L. Johnson, the very first recipient of the award! While Phyllis was quite surprised, the onlookers were not. Phyllis received this award because of how she has excelled inDSC_3198 (photo taken by Anthony J. Johnson ) service to not only the Black Catholic Community, but also to the Office of Multicultural Ministries. She is present at almost every event, and always comes with camera-in-hand, ready to take pictures and document the special moments that occur. She is constantly striving toward evangelization and discipleship and goes out of her way to help those in need. We were so thrilled to be able to present this award to such a deserving member of the Black Catholic Community. Congratulations, Phyllis!

Not only did this award receive attention throughout the Diocese of Arlington, but it also received national attention, as well! The National Black Catholic Congress got news of this award, and shared the story in a ‘Spotlight Article.’ Click here to view the article.

The Office of Multicultural Ministries plans on presenting the Father Augustus Tolton & Mother Mary Lange Award to a new recipient every year. This award is a great way to display our gratitude to those within the Black Catholic Community that consistently go above and beyond to not only help others within their community, but also at the Diocesan level. In the upcoming years, we will be asking those in the Black Catholic Community for nominations for this award. If you are interested in nominating someone to receive the Father Augustus Tolton & Mother Mary Lange Award, please click here to fill out the application.

Did you miss Watering the Garden: Growing Vocations in the Black Catholic Family? Click here to hear Bishop Joseph Perry’s Keynote or to listen to any of the talks by our many speakers throughout the day.