Sending Scholarships to the Philippines

By Chiqui P. Sanchez, Filipino-American Catholic Community

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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.

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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!

 

Simbang Gabi: A Filipino Tradition

Written by: Chiqui Sanchez

Misa de Gallo (Mass of the Rooster), Misa de Aguinaldo (Mass of the Gift) are a couple of terms commonly used to literally interpret SIMBANG GABI (Night Mass). These interpretations stem from the fact that these Masses are traditionally held at dawn in the Philippines to give farmers and fishermen, who either began or ended their days at dawn, the chance to participate in the celebrations, and dawn is the time when the roosters crow to signal and welcome the beginning of each day.  It is also known that the Pope in the latter part of the 1500’s granted a request from an Augustinian Prior to hold these Masses outdoors to accommodate all the people who attended the services at dawn. Simbang Gabi typically starts on December 16th and culminates with the celebration of midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. Typical Filipino fare, shared by families, inevitably follows each Simbang Gabi Mass during this Novena.

Simbang Gabi, a Filipino Tradition in which Advent Novena Mass - 12232014 30

Simbang Gabi has become one of the most popular traditions in the Philippines; a tradition that strengthens relationships within families and one that intensifies the faith of the Filipinos during the Advent season to prepare for the birth of our Lord. Filipino/Americans all over the United States have clung to this tradition and the Filipino/American communities in the Arlington Diocese claim no exception. Simbang Gabi is celebrated in numerous parishes in the Diocese, with one or more parishes taking turns celebrating one evening at a time to complete the novena of Advent Masses. The majority of our diocesan parishes hold the Masses in the evening, deviating from the practice to celebrate at dawn. The parish of St. Charles Borromeo in Arlington, which in December 2016 will be holding its 20th year of celebrating Simbang Gabi at 5:00 in the morning for nine consecutive days, is an exception.

At Our Lady of Good Counsel (OLGC) parish in Vienna, Virginia, the tradition has been going on for the past several years.  The parish-based Fil/Am Community Ministry sponsors the Simbang Gabi on the Saturday that falls within the  Simbang Gabi novena in the Diocese of Arlington. As tradition has it, Simbang Gabi at OLGC is followed by a reception in the church hall. A distinct feature of our Simbang Gabi at OLGC is the Panunuluyan, a short skit depicting Joseph’s and Mary’s Search for an Inn, played and/or sung before Mass begins, by a cast of Filipino/American children in the parish. This play has taken a form that varies from traditional to contemporary throughout the years, with Luke, dressed in a tunic, rolling down a scroll to tell the story or clad in shirt and blue jeans thumbing the story on an iPad.  Our Ministry is also blessed to have its own choir known as Serenata – Fil/Am Community Music Ministry, which provides the liturgical music for our Simbang Gabi at OLGC. The Musical Director also scripts and directs the Panunuluyan and leads the children in song in collaboration with Serenata either during the Mass or at the reception.

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The Fil/Am Community Ministry at OLGC sincerely acknowledges the support of our Pastor and his staff and the Offices of Multicultural Ministries in the Arlington Diocese, without which our endeavor to carry on a most beloved tradition would be in vain.

*Photos taken by Phyllis L. Johnson of the Black Catholic Ministry and various members of the Filipino-American Catholic Ministry.

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

Bishop Loverde Celebrates Growing Filipino Catholic Ministry in Northern Virginia

Written by: Angelita Felixberto

From its early beginnings in 2000, with nine parishes starting the celebration of Simbang Gabi, it has now grown into 35 parishes joining the celebrations in 2014, proudly announced by Ed Tiong in his acknowledgment closing in the final night of Simbang Gabi 2014. Ed Tiong and the Diocese of Arlington’s Filipino American Ministry of Northern Virginia Council have been a few of the pioneers leading the promotion and preserving the Catholic Filipino faith and cultural traditions in the Northern Virginia and metropolitan Washington, DC area.

The Filipino Ministry of Northern Virginia was born in the early part of the year 2000 when the Diocese of Arlington held a town hall meeting called “Encuentro 2000.” It brought together various diverse groups of ethnic Catholic communities consisting of the African-America, Korean, Chinese, Filipino, Hispanics, European and Vietnamese in Northern Virginia to facilitate expression of their hopes and dreams for a stronger Catholic community. The Filipino Ministry of Northern Virginia is an offspring of the “Encuentro 2000.” Three pioneering couples planted the seeds for the ministry, Ricel and Elvie Castro, Felipe and Rowena Averia and Ed and Maricor Tiong. The very first project was a retreat led by the musician Jesuit priest, Fr. Manoling Francisco. A leadership formation program ensued with the assistance of Cecile Motus, then coordinator of the Asian Pacific Ministry of the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees from the US Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB.) The initial core group added Jes and Nori Ces of “Tahanan ng Panginoon,” Neneng Riguera and Celia Coronado of the Philippine Medical Mission of St. Charles Borromeo in Arlington, Max Gonzales of “El Shaddai.” The Simbang Gabi 2000 begun, a Filipino tradition of nine-day novena Masses celebrating the Advent season in anticipation of the birth of Christ. Most people who attend the novena Masses have a prayerful petition in mind which serves as a motivation in completing the nine day-novena. In the Philippines, the tradition is celebrated by dawn Masses either at 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning, followed with an early breakfast of sumptuous Filipino rice or cassava delicacies that marks the celebration such as “puto-bumbong, bibingka” to include other stomach-warming dishes.

The theme of the Diocese of Arlington’s Simbang Gabi 2014 was “Love is our Mission: The Family Fully Alive.”  Photo 2The theme is in line with the preparation for the 2015 World Meeting of Families to be held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on September 22-27, 2015 to be led by our Holy Father, Pope Francis, for the 8th World Meeting of Families. The event seeks to “strengthen the sacred bonds of the family across the globe and highlight its intrinsic value to the good of society.” (Filipino Ministry Catholicweb.com). In 2003, the World meeting of families was held in Manila and was then led by now St. Pope John Paul II.

The various parishes that joined Simbang Gabi 2014 included St. Michael and Holy Spirit in Annandale, Christ the Redeemer in Sterling, Queen of Apostles in Alexandria, St. Philip and St. Anthony of Padua in Falls Church, St. John the Apostle in Leesburg, Church of the Nativity in Burke, All Saints in Manassas, Our Lady of Hope in Potomac Falls, St. Veronica and St. Timothy in Chantilly, Our Lady of Good Counsel in Vienna, St, Mary of Sorrows and St. Leo in Fairfax. St. Bernadette in Springfield,  St. Theresa in Ashburn, and Holy Family in Dale City. The final advent novena Mass was held at Good Shepherd Catholic Church (Alexandria) celebrated by His Excellency Bishop Loverde, himself.  The final Mass was dedicated as a “Call to Filipino American Youth, Families and Community.”

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Aside from the various parishes, the complete nine-day novena Masses were also celebrated at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Arlington, coordinated by the Roa and Sunga families. The Filipino Catholic Ministry of Northern Virginia coordinated with the Diocese of Arlington Office of Multicultural Ministries, directed by Corinne Monogue and assisted by Liz Tauke. Claireen Enciso was highly instrumental in coordinating the number of Filipino parish volunteer coordinators in bringing to life Simbang Gabi 2014.

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Angelita F. Felixberto is a blogger, freelance writer and news correspondent with GMA7 Network in the Philippines. Her blog is “The Catalyst Writer” at www.thecatalystwriter.com. She can be reached at bootsfelixberto@gmail.com.