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.

Vietnam - Marierose Hoang.jpg

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

Advertisements

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

Recap: First Annual Multicultural Choral Concert

HopXuongCaDaVanHoa_2015 (91)

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.

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.