40th Anniversary of the St. Joseph Gospel Choir

By: Ed Jones, Black Catholic Community

img_8524The St. Joseph Gospel Choir held its annual concert on Sunday, October 16, 2016 entitled “Dwell in The House,” marking its 40th Anniversary of providing song and praise at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Alexandria, Virginia. Starting from humble beginnings in 1976, when gospel music was not commonly sung in the Roman Catholic Church, the choir is now recognized for its musical talent in gospel expression; St. Joseph Gospel Choir receives frequent requests to sing for Church events, as well as concerts throughout the Washington Metropolitan area and beyond.

The 40th Anniversary Concert also included choirs and performers from the metropolitan area, making this event an even larger spirit and joy-filled celebration. The gospel choirs
from Our Lady Queen of Peace in Arlington, Virginia, and Incarnation Catholic Church in Washington, DC added to an evening of beautiful music. The Hunt Sisters, a familyimg_8480 quartet, performed traditional gospel spiritual songs, and the Towdah Mime Ministry acted out mime praise
interpretations to music. Mr. Jeffery Corry serenaded the
audience with a collection of piano melodies from popular spiritual songs.  At the conclusion of the evening, everyone left feeling completely fulfilled.

Join in the celebration! St. Joseph’s Gospel Choir sings at 11:00 a.m. Mass at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 711 N. Columbus Street, Alexandria, VA 22314, on the third Sunday of every month. All are welcome!

Our Lady of Lavang Council 16468 Installation of Officers

By Mr. Phong Tran, Vietnamese Catholic Community

On October 16th, 2016, the Knights of Columbus Virginia State Council performed the installation for the Our Lady of Lavang, VA, Council 16468. In colorful ceremonies with traditional pageantry, Knights of Columbus – Our Lady of  Lavang, VA, Council # 16468 installed its new officers.

The Installation of Officers ceremony took place in St. Veronica Catholic Church, Chantilly, Virginia. A total of 15 Knights were installed and took part in the ceremonies – with family, friends surrounded by other church members in attendance.

The Mass was administered by the new Pastor, Father Liem T. Tran of Holy Martyrs of Vietnam Church and concelebrated by the Spiritual Director, Father John Son Hoang of Our Lady of Lavang Catholic Community.

District Deputy Philip Bayer presided and administered the oath of office to fifteen of the newly elected officers.

cung-thanh_koc_02

Installed at the church altar were:

  1. Grand Knight: SK Phong Tran
  2. Chaplain: F Gioan Son Hoang, O.P
  3. Deputy Grand Knight: SK Sang Cao
  4. Chancellor: SK Phuong Nguyen
  5. Recorder: Hung Le
  6. Financial Secretary: SK Tuyen Dao
  7. Treasurer: Gia-Hoa Nguyen
  8. Warden: Hoach Nguyen
  9. Inside Guard: Hai Tran
  10. Outside Guard: Thomas Murray
  11. Advocate: SK Kiem Cao
  12. Lecturer: SK Thao Le
  13. Trustee 1 Year: Tien Nguyen
  14. Trustee 2 Years: Tuan Le
  15. Trustee 3 Years: Long Nguyen

The State Council officers and their wives attending included: Mr. & Mrs. Mike Gasper (State Deputy), Mr. Stephen Raschke (Past State Deputy), Mr. & Mrs. Steven J. Kehoe (State Secretary), Mr. & Mrs. Philip Bayer (District Deputy), Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Galvin (District Deputy), Mr. & Mrs. Tom Yehl (District Warden, P.G.K.), Mr. Bill Cinnamond (District Warden, FDD), Mr. & Mrs. Le Nguyen (State Council Director) and Mr. John Chung (Field Agent).

Mrs. Corinne Monogue (Director of Multicultural Ministries) and Mrs. Liz Puglise corrine_liz_installationwere also present at the Mass and Installation from the Catholic Diocese of Arlington.

Part of the ceremony was the presentation of the jewel of office – often draped on the neck of the new officer by his wife. A stem rose was presented to the wives.

The church hall was beautifully decorated in a patriotic theme including a meaningful table with KofC cake that was set-up by Grand Knight’s wife, Mrs. Oanh-Oanh T. Tran.

The Our Lady of Lavang Community of the Diocese of Arlington, is grateful to be blessed with it’s own Knights of Columbus Council.

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Sending Scholarships to the Philippines

By Chiqui P. Sanchez, Filipino-American Catholic Community

filipino-cross

One of our diocesan Filipino/American Catholic Communities is based at Our Lady of Good Counsel (OLGC) Catholic Church in Vienna, Virginia. As a Fil/Am Catholic ministry, one of our goals is to reach out to the Fil/Am community at OLGC, its neighboring parishes and to our fellow countrymen and women in the Philippines. Since its inception 10 years ago, we have been blessed with opportunities to reach this goal. We have financially contributed to the assistance of major disaster victims in the Philippines through collaboration with major organizations in the Washington DC Metropolitan area such as Feed the Hungry, Inc. and through partnership with the St. Vincent de Paul Society.  We have reached out to families in the areas who have suffered financial setbacks because of illness. We have also extended support to the Movie Workers Welfare Foundation, Inc. (Mowelfund) which is a leading film and resource center that contributes to the overall improvement of the Philippine Film Industry and whose major objective is to address the needs of the movie workers behind the scenes and their families. Through our community outreach program, another goal that the Fil/Am Catholic ministry of Our Lady of Good Counsel has been aiming for is to provide a Filipino student a college scholarship.  College costs for many of those living in poverty in the Philippines are extremely out of reach.   For just a few hundred US dollars a year, we can provide the opportunity for impoverished youth of the Philippines to access a college education.

In March of 2016, we met with Father Posey, Pastor of St. James, Mr. Mike Mele, who travels with Father Posey on behalf of the Pontifical Mission Society and Mrs. Corinne Monogue from the Diocesan Office of Multicultural Ministries about scholarships through YSLEP (Youth Servant Leadership and Education Program) under Caritas Manila (a Catholic organization). Father Posey, Mike and Corinne were in the Philippines in February 2016 to see for themselves what YSLEP is and all three were able to convince those of us in attendance from the OLGC ministry that this scholarship program is a worthy endeavor for our ministry to take on. This meeting concretized our long-time goal to be able to support students in the Philippines.

Through our contact with Caritas Manila, our OLGC-based Fil/Am Community Ministry now has an YSLEP scholar. Leobert Francisco from Basilan, Isabela is in his 2nd year of studies in Education at the Claret College, and we will see him through until he gets his degree in 2019. 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 yet another opportunity to serve and we are deeply grateful that we are able to make a difference in the life of one of our own brothers and sisters in Christ.  Please keep Leobert Franciso in your prayers for his educational opportunities and future success.

26th Annual Manassas African-American Heritage Festival – August 6, 2016 (Evangelization in Action)

By Deacon Al Anderson, Jr. Black Catholic Ministries

For the third year in a row, the Black Catholic Ministries for the Diocese of Arlington’s Office of Multicultural Ministries has presented a display at the Manassas African-American Heritage Festival. Over the years the festival has grown to include more than 125 exhibitors, including arts and crafts dealers, retailers of African Wares, church groups, youth groups, colleges and school exhibits, Health Fair, Business and Job Expos, Classic Car Show and great food vendors.

African American Heritage Festival 2016

Our diocesan Black Catholic display

 

Our Black Catholic Ministries displays have routinely drawn fallen-away Catholics, curiosity seekers, and others into meaningful discussions. This year’s festival was no exception. What a wonderful opportunity for evangelization!

We met one lady (we’ll call her “Sue”) who was a cradle Catholic, but stopped going to church many years ago. Sue’s mother remained faithful to the practice of the faith and continues to pray for Sue’s “reversion” . Sue shared with me that this was her first Festival, but for some reason felt drawn to this year’s event. When she came across our display table she knew she had to stop and talk. We had a very good conversation and she is seriously considering coming back to Church. Praise God!

We also met an inter-racial Catholic couple who was looking for information about Black Catholics to share with their son. We were able to share with them:

  • The stories of the four African-American Catholics who currently have causes being promoted for canonization: Venerable Pierre Toussaint; Servant of God, Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange; Venerable Mother Henriette Delille, and Servant of God, Fr. Augustus Tolton.
  • The histories of several Black Catholic religious orders, including: the Josephites (an active order of priests and brothers founded after the Civil War to minister to the spiritual and material needs of newly freed slaves), the Oblate Sisters of Providence (the oldest order of Black Catholic nuns in the world), and the Sisters of the Holy Family (The 2nd oldest order of Black Catholic nuns).
  • Information about the Knights and Ladies of Peter Claver – originally founded November 7, 1909 in Mobile Alabama as an organization to allow men and women of color membership in a Catholic fraternal, family-oriented, society.

Each year we have been blessed to have opportunities for dialogue with folks who are curious about Catholicism; have questions about what we believe; or are looking for a way “back home”. All the while enjoying great food, wonderful music, beautiful antique cars, and genuine, warm-hearted fellowship! Even the torrential rains which came at the end of the day couldn’t dampen the spirits of the good people there! Hope to see y’all there next year!

African American Heritage Festival 2016 pic3

And then the Rain came!

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.

 

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.

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.

 

With God by My Side

Written by: Marierose Hoang

“With God by my side, I do not need to worry about the long winding road ahead” this refrain of Lê Quốc’s song Tình Chúa Yêu Con kept resonating in my mind during my entire summer journey to Danang, Vietnam.  There was no better way to celebrate my 60th birthday than being blessed with the opportunity to breathe the same air for 20 days with the nuns of St Paul de Chartres Congregation at Thanh Tam Center of Special Education, a treatment and education school for 250+ special needs children.

After spending 2 months (Fall 2014) learning about Montessori Education at my school, Children’s House Montessori School in Reston, VA, Sister Anna Tuyet Lan, Director of the Center had become passionate about it and invited me to come to Danang to share my experiences as a Montessori teacher to her staff.

The Montessori education is a philosophy, a way of living and not just a mere educational method.  It is parallel with my faith.  Other than teaching the children to be independent, orderly, coordinated and concentrated, along with the emphasis on peace education, the focus is how to become a helpful person to the world, to worship truth and compassion rather than material success.

With God by my side Marierose 1However, God had a bigger plan for me.  A charitable organization, Companions in Grace based in California, upon learning about my endeavor, provided sponsorship for a few nuns from 7 other congregations all around Vietnam to come and attend.  Is it His intention to gather us all in unity to share in an education ideology based on virtues, peace and respect for the future children of Vietnam?   Apprehension and worry started seeping in.  I, a mere Montessori teacher from a small school, would now have to deliver a Montessori training program to 30 nuns and teachers:   Educating myself about a year long program in only 10 days of training!

I realized that it was God’s guidance to me: “Don’t worry much, just go and start planting the seeds.”  The 10 days of training were filled with God’s grace, joy, love and companionship.  I started each day with a prayer filled of delighted anticipation to share my passion about Montessori education and I looked forward to what would unfold during the day. I had a training schedule to abide to, but I did not worry much about what to say or deliver because I was surely guided by the Holy Spirit throughout the entire time.  I ended each day with a prayer filled of gratitude.  I felt God’s presence in each person, whether she is a nun or a teacher.  Love shone on everyone’s face.  Happiness was all around and above all, God was really with us.

With God by my side Marierose 2
I ended my journey spending time in the classroom with 20+ hearing impaired children and their teachers.  I can’t help but

be proud of this very first Montessori class at Thanh Tam Center of Special Education.  The result was far more than expected.  The classroom was so peaceful: each child was in total concentration with his/her work, and so involved to the point of even forgetting their snack time.  They did not want to go home and wanted to come to school earlier the next day.  “This did not happen before, they were often distracted and out of control but today, it was less stressful for me and I was able to observe, be more in tune with the children and enjoy my job,” said one of the teachers.

Yes, like the eyes of a servantWith God by my side Marierose 4
on the hand of his master,
Like the eyes of a maid
on the hand of her mistress,
So our eyes are on the LORD our God. (Psalm 123:2)

Through many positive feedbacks, I am assured that I have planted the seed as God has intended.   I am now waiting for it to grow so that I can ask God to help me to tend to it.

Thank you, God, for showing the way and guiding me because I am a “nobody servant,”
Thank you, Sister Anna Tuyết Lan, your staff, and Companions In Grace for sharing my passion, believing and trusting me,
Thank you Children’s House Montessori School families for providing the Math materials’corner,
Thank you all participants for your enthusiasm and love of learning,
Thank you family and friends for all your prayers.

With God by my side Marierose 3

Looking for Christ Retreat: Words from Lightworks Participants

The Catholic Diocese of Arlington’s Multicultural Ministries office held our very first Lightworks Retreat, entitled “Looking for Christ,” the weekend of June 26-28. Lightworks is a St. Ignatian bible study that this office began with the help of many dedicated Christian Life Community (USA) members from within our diocese. Because of the success of the bible study program, it was obvious that we should hold a retreat at our diocesan San Damiano Spirtual Life Center.  This Lightworks retreat was open to all who were interested, no previous Lightworks experience was necessary. The retreat was so successful that we wanted to share the words of our participants who attended this year! There is no better testament than spiritual witnesses.

“The retreat was awesome. My heart is on fire with the love of Jesus. Reading the Living Word, meeting the Lord in quiet gentle ways. All my questions were answered in scriptures I prayed on — my heart is so grateful for this life transforming weekend.”

“[The Lightworks Retreat] has provided food for thought and a better understanding of how contemplative prayer can touch our lives. Serves as a bridge between scripture and our everyday life.”

“[This retreat enriched my Catholic faith] enormously. There is hope for a multicultural world of Catholics. They can make a difference as the retreat showed. The world is a diverse place.”

“Moments of silence are good for me. And just getting away from distractions. I got time to reconnect with God.”

“The retreat made me realize why Jesus called me home, back to the Catholic Church after leaving the church for over 30 years, searching for God everywhere. The retreat made me happy that Jesus is in my heart and Lectio Divina was the key to participate more fully in my faith and the Mass.”

“Thank you for all the preparations to make this such a joyous and relaxing retreat. I truly love all the exercises, the prayer sessions, and discussions. I can’t ask for a better weekend.”

“This retreat helps reaffirm the Ignatian spirituality of ‘finding God in everything.’ My relationship with God is deepening when I remember finding good in my daily life, in all events that happened.”

“I loved the simplicity of everything. It is great to have silence to hear and enjoy and rejoice in the Lord! Thank you, Diocese of Arlington!”

“Thank you Arlington Diocese for coordinating this retreat to help all thirsty souls to come to meet God in our spiritual life. May God bless our efforts in bringing souls to God.”

“I have been on several retreats since 2014 and did not really know about them before. I wish I had known about them years ago.”

“The facility is like a 5-star hotel! It is much better than the hotel where I pay for, which was rated as 4.5-5 stars. The meals are delicious. The staff is so nice! Father Sam is kind and funny. Everything here is more than I expect!”

“[The retreat] helped me to understand how to read the scriptures, how I meet God through his word and how to interpret its meaning to apply to my life.”

“It enriched my belief [and made my] Catholic faith stronger, helped me focus on Mary and Holy Trinity, in a deepening of my heart and mind. Something powerful and unconditional love as Father sent the Son to the world and the Lord sends to the world as a peace maker and witness for his love.”

“[This retreat helped me to deepen my relationship with God] 1. By teaching me the value of sacred silence, 2. By showing me the deeper way to read scripture, 3. By allowing me time to commune with God in restful, unscheduled manner.”

“My faith centers on the Eucharist, on the living presence of Christ entering into me and taking residence in me. The retreat helped me focus that presence on using this presence in the ordinary events of my life – where Jesus meets me face to face.”

We hope these inspired participant testaments convey the fruits that were born from this weekend Lightworks retreat at the San Damiano Spiritual Life Center.   Stay informed with our office updates and through our webpage, as the Diocese of Arlington continues to make available amazing opportunities such as this.