Dear co-workers and friends,
Our Lenten journey is leading us to enter more deeply into the Passion of the Lord. We will soon celebrate Palm Sunday, marking the beginning of Holy Week.
In this Jubilee Year, we can take inspiration from Pope Francis' Lenten Message 2016 which reads, "God's mercy transforms human hearts; it enables us, through the experience of a faithful love, to become merciful in turn."
Through prayer and fasting, we allow God's all powerful mercy to change our hearts, leading us to a deeper conversion so we can reach out in almsgiving, in works of charity and justice as tangible ways of being merciful to others.
During Lent, Asian and Pacific Island Catholics especially first generation immigrants practice popular devotions. One example is the Filipino Holy Week tradition called "visita Iglesia" (the literal meaning is Church visit). This tradition entails visiting seven local churches during Holy Thursday to pray in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament and to contemplate the Stations of the Cross. The Chamorros share this Lenten practice of visiting local churches on Holy Thursday to meditate on the passion of Christ, observe holy silence at home by turning off the TV and on Good Friday, to go the church in the morning and spend time for prayer until the Liturgy of the Lord's Passion concludes in the afternoon.
In a 2015 report on a study on Asian and Pacific Island Catholics in the US, it states that, "Catholicism is lived out by Asian and Pacific Island Catholics with distinctive celebrations, cultural richness and traditional/transnational representations."
The report also points out that "devotional practices stand out as particularly important to API Catholics. Many mention devotions, popular piety as being among API Catholics' most important contributions to the Church." The study was conducted by Drs. Tricia Bruce, Jerry Park and Stephen Cherry for the Secretariat of Cultural Diversity. Another component of the study designed and implemented by CARA of Georgetown University, provided a report titled "In-pew Surveys in Asian/Pacific Islander Catholic Parishes." These rich and substantial sources of data are tools in the development of a national pastoral plan for Asian and Pacific Island Catholics in the US.
Now, I take this opportunity to provide update on the development of the national pastoral plan. Last January 26-29 in San Diego, CA, Summit II was held, which was a gathering of pastoral leaders and consultants convened by the Secretariat of Cultural Diversity. The Summit was led by Bishop Randolph Calvo, outgoing chairman of the USCCB/Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Island Affairs (SCAPA) with Bishop Dominic Luong, SCAPA member.
Because of the Summit participants' pastoral insights, expertise and dedication, the Summit achieved its goal- to provide a solid outline of the national pastoral response, with very useful data from the above mentioned reports. In addition, the Summit opening and closing celebrations held at the Immaculate Conception Parish in San Diego were even made more meaningful because of the local participation of representatives from San Diego Catholic cultural groups including the Tongan choir which sang at the opening Mass and the Chamorro community which hosted the closing dinner and program.
For more information on the closing celebration, check out this article by Sandy Uslander.
The San Diego Summit was a significant step in the process to develop a national pastoral response to the presence of Asian and Pacific Island (API) Catholics. It is hoped that as the process move forward and with God's grace lead to the Plan's approval, dissemination and implementation, the National Pastoral Plan will give 'new visibility' to the presence, contributions and challenges of contemporary and diverse Asian and Pacific Island communities in the US Catholic Church.
It is important to note that within the API networks there are on-going activities and events. One of the events is the 14th Marian Pilgrimage on May 7th, organized by the Asian and Pacific Island Catholic Network in collaboration with the Secretariat of Cultural Diversity. On May 11-12 in New Jersey, the Korean American Catholics will celebrate the 50th anniversary of practicing their faith in the US. For more information on Asian and Pacific Islanders, I encourage you to check our webpage.
This Lent, as we pray, fast and give alms, let us ask our Blessed Mother's help to accompany and strengthen us in the journey. The Holy Father points out in his Lenten message, "After receiving the Good News told to her by the Archangel Gabriel, Mary, in her Magnificat, prophetically sings of the mercy whereby God chose her."
My prayerful best wishes in our Lenten journey and Easter celebration.
Sr. Myrna Tordillo, MSCS
US Conference of Catholic Bishops
Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church
Ringing in the New Year, Chinese Style
By: Carolyn Ng, Consultant to the Asian Pacific Islander Sub-Committee
On February 6, close to 300 Chinese American Catholics and friends celebrated the Lunar New Year in Rockville, Maryland, with a Mass, a veneration of ancestors and a dinner party.
Bishop Martin Holley, an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Washington, celebrated a Vigil Mass and gave an inspiring homily about God's mercy, discipleship, and the saints. Right after that, Fr. Ming Ruan, the pastoral administrator of Our Lady of China Pastoral Mission, presided in a veneration of ancestors. In front of a crucifix and a tablet that represented all ancestors, he offered incense, flowers, wine and fruits.
In the Chinese culture, rituals for New Year (also known as the Spring Festival) are filled with symbols for filial piety, harmony and prosperity. Filial piety toward the parents is considered an essential virtue while they are alive and continues after their death.
Chinese, as well as Koreans and Vietnamese, express their honor to ancestors at home daily and through public veneration during major celebrations. While Jesuit missionaries in China in the 1630s tolerated these rites and ceremonies, the practices were challenged by other missionary orders as idolatrous.
Consequently, the so-called Chinese Rites Controversy led to a papal bull in 1715 and the expulsion of all missionaries from China. In 1939, Pope Pius XII relaxed certain strictures. Encouraged by the Second Vatican Council's respect of indigenous traditions (SC 37), seven Taiwanese bishops met with the Nuncio in 1964 and provided guidelines for Chinese Catholics to venerate their ancestors. Today, the Singapore and Hong Kong dioceses also have guidelines, although less than 10% of the parishes in Hong Kong practice public veneration for New Year. Many Chinese Catholic parishes and communities in the United States, however, have celebrated ancestor veneration for a number of years.
After Fr. Ruan and the clergy paid their respect to the ancestors, all present took a bow before each family stepped forward to offer incense. One parishioner who recently lost his mother to illness was deeply touched; he was an American who married a Chinese, and both participated in the celebrations for the first time.
After the liturgical celebrations, everyone sat down for a pot-luck dinner that was filled with lots of food and laughter. Children as well as adults, especially a dozen seminarians, enjoyed a lion dance, a taichi sword exercise and a folk dance performed by children. Franciscan Capuchin brothers from D.C. also showcased quite a few talented musicians. The evening program ended on a high note with singing clergy and seminarians.
A Traditional Asian Cultural Catholic Celebration
By: Corinne Monogue, Director, Office of Multicultural Ministries, Diocese of Arlington
It can only be described as a gift from God to have Asian heritage expressed through our shared Catholic faith. Fortunately, in our Diocese we have many opportunities to participate in a variety of unique cultural celebrations. The Diocese of Arlington is home to thousands of Vietnamese & Vietnamese American Catholics. Our history with the Vietnamese cultural community began in 1979 with the establishment of the first Vietnamese National Parish in the United States, Holy Martyrs of Viet Nam in Arlington, VA. Since its establishment the parish has served as a place to welcome our Catholic faithful, as well as a place to celebrate and enrich Vietnamese heritages and historical traditions.
One of these amazing celebrations is Vietnamese T
. This Lunar New Year celebration is steeped in rich history and observed during the first several days of the lunar calendar. Simply known as Têt, it is celebrated by millions of Vietnamese all around the world. On February 8th, we welcomed the Year of the Monkey. Têt is traditionally the biggest and one of the most important holidays in Vietnamese culture. Têt is based on traditional history but has evolved into a modern celebration that incorporates our Catholic faith.
A large Têt celebration was hosted by our diocesan Our Lady of La Vang community and our Holy Martyrs of Viet Nam parish. The teamwork and collaborative effort of these diocesan groups drew tens of thousands to the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, VA on January 30th and January 31st. This year, the Our Lady of La Vang community, with full support of their sisters and brothers from Holy Martyrs of Vietnam and their Pastor Father Peter Huong Pham, organized this astounding celebration.
Their celebration of Têt featured activities for everyone, including a children's area, popular Vietnamese musical entertainment, a raffle, traditional dances including ornate dragons, photos with traditional Têt yellow cherry blossoms, and an array of amazing food provided by many Catholic Vietnamese ministries (Knights of Columbus, Parish Choirs, Prayer groups, etc.)
The children's area held many carnival games (including video game dancing), face painting, balloon animals, and arts & crafts, all staffed by Vietnamese American Catholic Youth groups. Bridging generational and cultural gaps was one of the primary goals of this year's Têt celebration, and the inclusion of popular entertainers from well-known Vietnamese music studios brought together fans of all ages and backgrounds. To complete our diocesan Têt celebration, the Holy Sacrifice of Mass was held on Sunday, February 7th. It will be an extreme challenge for next year's organizers to match the amazing, Christ centered and joy-filled Têt celebration of 2016!
The Office of Multicultural Ministries strives to serve the pastoral needs of the various ethnic communities within the Diocese of Arlington. Northern Virginia is rich in its diversity and the Diocese is constantly working to strengthen Catholic ethnic ministries throughout the region. The Office of Multicultural Ministries supports a variety of events, convocations, growth and programs designed to promote effectiveness and accessibility of ministries within multicultural communities.
July 2016 - Laotian Catholic National Conference, Milwaukee, WI
June 27, 2015 - 18th Annual National Pilgrimage of Our Lady of Antipolo, Washington, DC
June 9-14, 2015 Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Camp
May 11-15, 2015 - KAPA Annual Conference, Techny Towers Conference & Retreat Center, Techny, Illinois
February 23-27, 2015 - Korean Priests Association (KAPA) Orientation Program, Prince of Peace Abbey, Oceanside, CA
October 24, 2015 - International Cultural Festival (ICF) at Bishop O'Connell High School (BOHS), Arlington, VA
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church
Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Island Affairs (SCAPA)
3211 Fourth Street, NE, Washington, DC 20017