Welcoming diversity in the faith

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As the Arlington Diocese becomes increasingly diverse, the Office of Multicultural Ministries and the Spanish Apostolate aim to support various cultural communities that practice their Catholic faith according to their unique liturgical traditions.

Though the Spanish Apostolate, which offers assistance to the Hispanic and Latino communities, has existed since 1974, the Office of Multicultural Ministries is much newer. The office was established under the leadership of Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde in 2004 after a survey of the diocese revealed a growing number of Catholic ethnic groups in the region.

"The office is here to shape, lead and guide the exponential growth of each and every cultural voice in our diverse diocese," said Corinne Monogue, director since 2009.

Monogue began serving the office as its program assistant under Father Richard Mullins in 2005.

Multicultural Ministries helps and collaborates with the following communities: Asian and Pacific Islanders (Vietnamese, Korean, Indian, Chinese, Samoan and Filipino), African-American, African (Eritrean, Ethiopian, Cameroonian, Ugandan and Ghanaian), European (German, Italian, Polish, Spanish, Irish, Portuguese and French), South American (Brazilian) and migrant (Haitian and Caribbean.)

St. Joseph's Church in Alexandria has served the African-American community, the oldest community served by Multicultural Ministries, since 1915.

Holy Martyrs of Vietnam Church in Arlington has served the Vietnamese Catholic community in the eastern part of the diocese since 1979, while the newer Our Lady of LaVang has operated out of St. Veronica Church in Chantilly to serve the western part of the diocese since 2005.

St. Paul Chung Church in Fairfax is the diocese's Korean parish. Established in 1996, the parish offers Korean Catholic spiritual and cultural programs overseen by Korean priests.

Every March, the diocese celebrates a Gaelic Mass. Additional Masses and prayer groups are celebrated and observed in Portuguese, French and Polish when possible.

Monogue said that the diocese has witnessed a huge growth in its Asian and Pacific Islander communities, while the Brazilian community, although comparitively small, remains committed.

At this time, more than 30 of the diocese's 69 parishes offer Spanish-language Masses. All sacraments and religious education classes also are available in Spanish.

The Spanish Apostolate, led by Father José E. Hoyos, a Colombian priest with a strong charismatic following, offers various Spanish-language events throughout the year. These range from quinceañera retreats for teenage girls to an annual talent show for all ages, with a special emphasis on positive outlets for youth.

"The Gospel of Christ reminds us that all human beings are the sons and daughters of God," wrote Father Hoyos in the Spanish-language blog, padrehoyos.blogspot.com. "We belong to this great family redeemed by Christ and we are called to share the suffering of others."

Father Hoyos has served the diocese since 1988 and assumed the role of Spanish Apostolate director in 2005. He regularly celebrates healing Masses and maintains active Twitter and Facebook accounts.

"We want to create a welcoming home where communities feel comfortable with expressing their cultural identities, deepening out their faith and carrying out their Catholic traditions," said Monogue.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015