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Multicultural ministry director steps down

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Corinne Monogue, director of the diocesan Office of Multicultural Ministries, is wrapping up her more than 13-year stint with the diocese May 31. Her husband is taking on a new work position near San Francisco, but Monogue looks forward to staying plugged in to events hosted by various Catholic communities throughout the diocese. 

“I will be immersed in as much cultural diversity events as a lay faithful whenever I’m back in the area. My daughter still lives here, and I will be visiting often. I have so much love for this diocese,” Monogue said. 

In 2005, her husband — realizing that Corinne was getting restless as a stay-at-home mom — submitted her resume for a job in the nascent diocesan Office of Multicultural Ministries. 

“My husband called that one right, even though he did it without my knowledge,” Monogue said. “He knew that I had a passion for immersing myself into cultures I am unfamiliar with.”

As a military spouse, she had moved 13 times prior to working for the diocese, holding positions such as a Catholic school teacher, a docent at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts in Montgomery, Ala., and a public relations consultant. Accustomed to an itinerant way of living, on the weekends her work calls her to organize or attend multicultural events at numerous parishes.

“Over my time here, this office has exploded. We went from working with just a handful of diversities to working with more than 20 different cultural diversities,” Monogue said. “We are recognized and acknowledged as a center of welcome, outreach and pastoral care for anyone worshipping in the diocese whose cultural diversity isn’t part of the larger majority.”

Encounters with other Catholics led her to experience diverse expressions of the faith, such as the Filipino tradition of Simbang Gabi, Masses celebrated during the nine days leading up to Christmas. 

“It really took me out of the frenetic holiday mindset and refocused me on the birth of Christ,” Monogue said. 

Another first for her was at a Ghanaian Mass where she discovered a custom of kinship among those born on the same day of the week. She was born on a Tuesday and now she ends her talks at Ghanaian parishes revealing that to shouts of approval from the congregations.

“I am officially a parishioner of Holy Spirit in Annandale, but all the diocesan churches have kind of become my parish,” Monogue said.

Cherished highlights are too many for her to list, but she spoke fondly of building bridges with numerous Catholic communities including the French, Hungarians, Albanians and Native Americans. 

“All of these cultures help us to evangelize and grow. Native American Catholics, for example, have been here since before the founding of our diocese.  When we do our utmost to welcome those who may be on the periphery, we can better see that there really is a place for everyone in our church,” Monogue said. 

Collaboration with Bishop Michael F. Burbidge was also high on her list of memories.

Her last event as director of the diocesan Office of Multicultural Ministries was a listening session on racism at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington May 21. The session was in response to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ pastoral letter against racism, “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love.”

“Working with the bishop has been a remarkable experience. It has been a tremendous joy of mine to work under his guidance and leadership in providing care for the culturally diverse Catholics of our diocese. He is an amazing leader,” Monogue said. 

Bridget Wilson, the former program specialist in the diocesan Office of Multicultural Ministries, has been named Corinne’s successor.

“She does so much. As the program specialist she worked at the grassroots level with communities to really hear of their needs,” Corinne said. “Now, as the new director, she’s going to continue to be that crucial bridge between the diocese, the chancery, the parishes and our Catholic cultural diversities.”

 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019