A celebration of diversity, missions

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The pews filled up quickly at St. Agnes Church in Arlington Oct. 17 for the Diocesan Multicultural Mass and World Mission Sunday celebration. Men, women and children in ethnic clothing proudly displayed their Eritrean, Ghanaian, Vietnamese, Korean and Cameroonian cultures.

Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde and the priests of the diocese were led in procession to the altar by the Holy Martyrs of Vietnam Knights of Columbus Honor Guard, the Knights of Peter Claver and the Ladies Auxiliary courts from St. Joseph Church in Alexandria.

In his homily, Bishop Loverde reflected on the Gospel of Mark and the request of James and John that when the time came, could they sit at His right and left side in heaven.

Jesus said that their request was not His to grant, but is "for those for whom it has been prepared."

Jesus' response may seem like a negative reaction to the disciples' ambitions, but the bishop said that Jesus seems to be saying that there's nothing wrong with ambition, if you are ambitious about the right things. Jesus did not want to be served, but to serve.

"That was His basic ambition," said Bishop Loverde. "Is it ours?"

The way to be like Jesus, said the bishop, is to be what Pope Francis called in his apostolic exhortation "Evangelii Gaudium" ("The Joy of the Gospel") a "missionary disciple."

"Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus: We no longer say that we are 'disciples' and 'missionaries,' but rather that we are always 'missionary disciples.'"

Bishop Loverde went on to address the multicultural diversity of the Arlington Diocese and the unity of the diocese in Jesus Christ. The forbearers of these groups helped to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.

"So, let us be ambitious - ultimately for enriching the lives of others by being 'missionary disciples,'" said Bishop Loverde at the conclusion of his homily.

Members of parish multicultural youth groups presented the eucharistic gifts to the altar to the bishop.

Diocesan youths from the Eritrean, Korean, Vietnamese, Hispanic, black Catholic, Brazilian, Cameroonian, Ghanaian and St. James School communities each recited one general intercession.

After Mass, there were displays from diocesan ethnic groups in the parish hall as well as a rich selection of ethnic food.

Dominic Adu-Gyamfi, Julius Caesar and Peter Teye said that they have seen the growth of the Ghanaian Catholic Community in the diocese and are thankful for the support.

"(The diocese) shows us a lot of love," said Teye.

Valentine Tata, from the Cameroonian Community at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Vienna, thought the event was "fantastic" and is thankful for the opportunity to worship and practice his culture.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015