Multicultural Mass brings nations together at Queen of Apostles in Alexandria

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They walked into Queen of Apostles Church in Alexandria wearing colorful saris and magojas — the long and colorful clothing worn in India and Korea — as well as other outfits indigenous to their countries of origin or of their ancestors.

The colors and complex weavings visually expressed the variety of cultures that make up the Arlington Diocese, all being celebrated at the seventh annual Multicultural Mass June 24.

In his homily, Arlington Bishop Michael F. Burbidge said that living and worshipping in a vibrant, multicultural diocese was a blessing. He told those gathered to look around at the countries of origin, cultures, and backgrounds that were represented throughout diocesan parishes.

“It is important for us to lift each one up, to celebrate each of them,” said Bishop Burbidge in his homily. “That is what we do in a special way tonight. We celebrate our diversity and the gifts that various cultures and each one of you bring to the Lord, bring to this church and bring to our diocese. For that, we are deeply grateful.”

The 60-member choir, representing all the cultures in the diocese, sang “Amazing Grace” in a variety of languages, including Vietnamese, Korean, Filipino and Spanish. 

Members of the Black Catholic, Vietnamese, Hispanic, Filipino and Brazilian communities were called to share the prayers of the faithful in their native languages.

“We go forth this evening celebrating our diversity, reflecting our unity and trusting God’s promise that He will always be there to love, to deliver and to protect us,” the bishop said. “That is how we go forward and live fearlessly.”

The celebration included a fair with food and exhibits that showcased the different communities of the diocese, including Our Lady of Lavang Vietnamese Catholic Community, the Ghana Catholic Community, Filipino Catholic Community, Brazilian Catholic Community and St. Paul Chung Korean Church.

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Harvesta Green Williams, a parishioner of Christ the Redeemer Church in Sterling, said she wished the Multicultural Mass would be celebrated more than once a year.

“Everybody is not celebrated on a regular basis,” she said. “By having these celebrations maybe it will enhance the opportunity to be unified in individual parishes.”

Paola Giovanetti, a parishioner of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Triangle, said it’s important to have such events given the current feeling of divisiveness in the country.

“With all the political strife, this shows that one God joins us all,” Giovanetti said. “We need to meet people of different cultures one-on-one. Unification is going to be done by each individual person.”

Thanh Le, music director for the Multicultural Mass and one of the choir directors at Holy Martyrs of Vietnam Church in Arlington, agreed. “We are so different culturally, but we are united in one faith,” said Le.

Diocesan diversity was fully on display with dancers and musicians from Indonesia, Korea and Ghana.

Queen of the Apostles parishioner Kathleen King said the Multicultural Mass reflects the cultural reality of Fairfax County and it’s something she values in her parish.

“It is a wonderful place to worship,” she said. “This parish has someone from everywhere.”

Fellow parishioner Kevin Ketchmark said the Mass is an opportunity to celebrate as a diocese, not just as a parish, and it is an opportunity for other parishes that are not as diverse to be exposed to the church’s cultural richness.

“It is almost second nature for us here at Queen of Apostles. We have a very diverse parish on our own,” he said. “We have the Ghanaian community with us officially and we have a very large Hispanic population.” 

Corinne Monogue, director of the diocesan Office of Multicultural Ministries, said the event provided an opportunity for others for see what the office does throughout the year.

“This office helps them to express their unique cultural history through the sacraments of our church and by doing so at one Mass where we all come together at the table of the Lord, it is a beautiful opportunity,” she said.

Buy photos from the Multicultural Mass at catholicherald.smugmug.com.

 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017

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