By: Kevin Bohli, Director of Youth Ministry

At a recent training, I learned that more than half of the Catholics in our country who were born after 1982 are Hispanic — 54 percent, according to a recent Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) study [1].  The Office of Youth Ministry has been trying to increase our ministry to young Hispanics with some success, but this statistic served as a real wake-up call. We certainly have the goal to host youth events in this diocese and in our parishes that offer a better reflection of the cultural make-up of the Church.

For each of our events, we advertise in both English and Spanish. Mass is typically bilingual, and we attempt to offer speakers and music who are attractive to young Hispanics. We work hard to make sure that youth from all cultures feel welcomed at all of our diocesan gatherings.

Futbol 2 Occasionally, we also offer events that are specifically focused on Hispanic youth, in order to encourage parish Coordinators of Youth Ministry to increase their efforts to invite Hispanic teens from their parish to participate. Two weekends ago, we offered a diocesan Soccer Festival (Festival de Fútbol) for this purpose. This festival allowed youth from throughout the diocese to gather together and compete in a 6-on-6 soccer tournament. Parishes and organizations could enter teams in either the middle or high school division, and families of the teens were encouraged to attend.

FutbolThis year’s theme for our entire calendar of events is “Go Forth and Make Disciples,” or in Spanish “Vayan Adelante y Hagan Discípulos.” Our emphasis is that all adults who work with young people need to take them from a place where they will simply tolerate spiritual growth and move them toward taking their own initiative to grow spiritually. This happens when adults build relationships with young people and walk alongside them in forming them in the faith.

How appropriate that our diocesan Soccer Festival began with a bilingual Mass celebrated by Fr. Mauricio Pineda, a newly ordained priest and parochial vicar at All Saints in Manassas. Fr. Pineda grew up in the Arlington Diocese, and is a living example of what happens when adults provide ministry focus, specifically upon young Hispanics. When adults build relationships with young people, and act as a witness of Christ in their lives, those young people not only take initiative for their own growth, but then take the initiative to lead others in their spiritual growth. As a young Hispanic priest from the Arlington Diocese, Fr. Pineda now is a role model, and a witness of Christ in leading our next generation of young Hispanics to grow in their faith.

Just before His Ascension, Our Lord entrusted the Church with a mission that is still in need of fulfillment today: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.” [2] Please continue to pray for our diocesan community — that we continue to bring this message to all young people, from all nations.

[1] USCCB, Hispanic Ministry At A Glance, 2012, http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/cultural-diversity/hispanic-latino/demographics/hispanic-ministry-at-a-glance.cfm.

[2] Matthew 29:19, NAB.

By: Sr. Clare Hunter

“Behold, I am going to send an angel before you to guard you along the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. Be on your guard before him and obey his voice; do not be rebellious toward him, for he will not pardon your transgression, since My name is in him. But if you truly obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries” (Exodus 23:20-22).

I recently asked a man about his first memory of an encounter with God. He thought for a few minutes and shared an account, that I was to believe or not, of an experience he had as a young child. He was in his room and felt an “evil presence” and got very scared. He started to pray, and he felt someone take his hand. A sensation of peace and security came over him. “As weird as it sounds,” he said, he knew it was his Guardian Angel who took his hand and made him feel safe, and the evil presence disappeared. Not only was I touched by his story, but I was struck that he did not tell me about seeing Jesus, or the Father, Himself, but he knew God, as many have, through a “messenger of God,” an angel.

LF8October 2 is the great feast of the Guardian Angels. In fact, this is “angel week” as we celebrated the great feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael on September 29. Certainly the mystery of angels captivates the world, young and old, of all faiths, yet it is important to make sure we have a proper understanding of the office of angels, and even more important to equip ourselves with the prayers and devotions that bring us into a deeper relationship with the angels and their invaluable protection.

Rooted deep within the Judeo-Christian tradition is the belief that part of God’s creation includes a species known as angels. Their mission is to make God known. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us of the relationship between humans and their angels:

“From its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession. ‘Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life.’ Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God” (CCC 336).

Angels have no bodies. They are not human, nor will humans become angels. In fact, we are taught that we will be “above the angels” as members of the Body of Christ. This was the very truth that caused Lucifer, a Seraph, to reject God, and, along with countless angels, to be cast into hell. Yes, bodiless beings that can protect and lead us is hard to comprehend and imagine, hence the images of winged “babies” or strong warriors who shield us from evil. When a loved one dies, it is natural to want to know and feel their presence and to believe that one of their souls is close by, guiding and protecting us each day. And God willing, they are, but not as angels.

Today is a perfect day to brush up on your angelology and to pray in deep gratitude for your Guardian Angel. Make sure you have these prayers memorized by the end of the day. Each of us receive our own angel for our time on earth, whose mission is to lead our soul into heaven. That is his only mission! He only has us! We can’t let him fail!

Prayer to your Guardian Angel:

Angel of God,
My guardian dear,
To whom God’s love
Commits me here,
Ever this day,
Be at my side,
To light and guard,
Rule and guide. Amen.

Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel:

St. Michael the Archangel,
Defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
And do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
By the power of God,
Thrust into hell Satan,
And all the evil spirits,
Who prowl about the world
Seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

By: Therese Bermpohl

Got family vacation plans for 2015? How about attending the World Meeting of Families (MWOF) from September 22-25, 2015? If you hang around until the last day, you may get a chance to meet Pope Francis.

The WMOF will take place at the Philly Convention Center and is expected to attract 10 to 15 thousand Catholics from around the world. There are 6,000 rooms on hold for the conference, and another 4,000, (10,000 total) on hold for the papal visit, which has not yet been made official. If you cannot afford a hotel room there is ample opportunity to stay with host families.

The event/festivities surrounding the WMF will include:

  • Daily Mass
  • Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament available all day, all week
  • Two to three keynotes each day, including a youth track, and a young adult track
  • Family Fest, sponsored by Philadelphia’s leading cultural institutions (for example, among others, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Franklin Institute are each planning family-themed exhibits and extended hours during the week. Every evening there will be film festivals, concerts, etc)
  • A Market Place for an exchange of goods and ideas
  • Daycare
The Holy Family Iconic Painting for the World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015, can help us think about, and feel emotions around, God and family. Neilson Carlin of Kennett Square, PA has been asked to create the Icon of the World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015.

The Holy Family Iconic Painting for the World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015, can help us think about, and feel emotions around, God and family. Neilson Carlin of Kennett Square, PA has been asked to create the Icon of the World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015.

Pope Francis is expected to arrive on September 25, 2015, and to be greeted by thousands at Independence Hall in downtown Philadelphia. The following morning, more than 40,000 young people will gather for a rally with the Pope on the grounds of Citizens Bank Park. Later that evening, more than one million people are expected for the festival of families and another million for the Papal Mass on Sunday morning, all held along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in the heart of Philly.

Also available for families are catechetical materials in both English and Spanish that highlight what Catholics believe about the dignity of marriage and family.

Registration is opening soon, so if you would like to attend, now is a good time to start considering your options!

If you cannot attend, please pray for the success of the event and for the strengthening of families throughout the world.

For the most updated information on the World Meeting of Families click here.

**Editor’s Note: Too often we hear upsetting or shocking news that reminds us just how desperately our country needs to address mental health issues, especially when we see and hear of beloved family members or beloved icons, like Robin Williams, succumb to their illnesses alone and oftentimes without support. This will be the first of a series of blog posts addressing mental health issues by Dr. Frank Moncher, a clinical psychologist with Catholic Charities Diocese of Arlington. We hope that this can help educate you on the circumstances behind mental illness and suicide, and begin that dialogue within the context of the Catholic community.**


By: Dr. Frank Moncher

It is sadly ironic that the man who uttered the famous call of optimism amid tragic circumstances, providing encouragement and a challenge to consider each new day a gift to those depleted, took his own life in August. Robin Williams’ death by suicide has brought attention to the problem of suicide in our culture. Although rates of suicide are relatively stable across the decades overall, it now ranks in the top 10 causes of death, and there is a disturbing trend of rising suicide rates especially among middle-aged men. Bottom line is that there are too many people seeing death as a solution to their pain, suffering, or seemingly unsolvable life circumstances. Each situation is unique and deserving of its own story, yet there are some important commonalities which can provide increased understanding and hopefully prevent future tragedies.

Robin_Williams_2011a_(2)Historically, suicide, depression, and mental illness have been characterized or understood as a personal weakness, a lack of virtue, or lack of self-control. However, suicide is a complicated outcome that is often driven by complex circumstances. As in Williams’ case, depression and substance addiction are often part of the mix. Psychotic disorders and impulse control disorders share their part of the “blame,” as well. Clinically speaking, depression and its features of loneliness, burdensomeness, low mood, helplessness and hopelessness affect problem-solving abilities and distort perception of self-worth. Suicide becomes idealized as an immediate escape (as many as 50 percent of those with depression report having suicidal thoughts during their illness); adding in diminished self-control via substance abuse or loss of touch with reality heightens the risk enormously. It is important to note that while the taking of life is considered a sinful act, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) notes clearly that when the person involved is suffering from mental illness, the culpability for the act may be significantly mitigated (CCC 2282). The Catechism reassures us: “We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives” (CCC 2283).

Yet, rather than focus on the multitude of risk factors well documented elsewhere, it seems worth exploring what might be salutary for the 80 to 90 percent of persons suffering from depression, addiction, or other mental and emotional problems who never take their lives.


Williams’ call of greeting in the 1980s classic “Good Morning Vietnam” is just one of many preventive attitudes of life that inoculates one against the despair most suicidal persons reach. Others have commented in the wake of the tragedy how gratitude, hope, and finding meaning in suffering can have a life-saving impact on someone experiencing such intense pain. (Add to that the great anger antidote of forgiveness, and much relief is found.) The sad reality of those left behind when anger plays a part in motivating a suicide is daunting, and a number of self-help groups have emerged to answer the call of those who are struggling with the grief from a family member or friend taking their own life (e.g. Loving Outreach to Survivors of Suicide-LOSS). I am not suggesting that all who are suffering can get beyond it by merely “pulling up one’s bootstraps.” However, there is power and peace to be found in exercising whatever remains in one’s control toward positive relationships, giving to others, and noticing anew what it is that makes life worth living. Although most of us will never experience what it is like to contemplate suicide, the importance of discovering meaning in our lives and growing to act more in accord with this is life-giving to each of us, as well as to our family and friends. It is through coming to know ourselves and connecting with others that we build a strong foundation for living a mentally healthy life.


In his next blog of this Mental Health series, Dr. Moncher will discuss the biochemistry behind depression and how important prayer can be for those who are suffering.

Staff Spotlight is — in an ongoing effort to get a range of content on Encourage & Teach — content from staff members within the Diocese of Arlington from contributors who do not write as a part of their day-to-day job.

By: Kathleen Yacharn

I went to Risk Jesus this past weekend with about 1,200 others, give or take a few. It was an awesome, vibrant event and inspirational to see so many young men and women, mothers, fathers, religious and families unite to celebrate the joy of our faith. After the sessions, there was a Q&A session with Bishop Loverde, Jennifer Fulwiler, and Rev. Longenecker answering questions of faith submitted through our Twitter handle @arlingtonchurch.

The questions ranged from how to deepen your prayer life, to how we can be witnesses in our daily lives, to how we can learn to be open and communicate Our faith better. One question that really touched my heart and made me reflect was one I’ve had over the years. For those of us blessed to be “cradle Catholics,” who have not had a dramatic or difficult or miraculous journey: How can we evangelize without an exciting story to tell?

The answer comes straight from the Gospel, when St. Thomas put his hand into Christ’s wounds and says, “My Lord and My God.” Jesus turned to him, and said:

“‘Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and believed’” (John 20:29).

This is not the only time that Jesus reminds us that there is no greatness or smallness in faith. Rather, for those of us who haven’t heard God’s voice or had an obvious miracle happen in our lives, Jesus even tells us that our faith matters all the more because God calls us to simple obedience and child-like trust in Him:

“‘Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these’” (Matthew 19:14).

st therese workingDon’t be discouraged if you don’t have a conversion story like St. Paul. Remember, even the littlest and simplest of people change the world. Although she did experience a beautiful apparition, lived a simple and humble life, St. Therese was convinced that those ordinary people with no special story to tell mattered just as much as the mystics and great martyrs. Her conviction that you could make a difference even in doing the smallest acts done with great love led her to be named a Doctor of the Church by Pope John Paul II.

“‘God’s love is revealed just as much in the most simple soul who does not resist His graces as in the most sublime.’” – St. Therese of Lisieux

There are non-canonized saints who died without a record of their heroic virtue. We honor these saints for their unrecognized faithfulness on All Saints’ Day. We should never let the idea of greatness make us feel small. Another Teresa, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta said: “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” There is nothing too ordinary, simple, or little for God to make great or work wonders in.

Be sure to keep an eye on the Diocesan website and our Facebook and Twitter. We will be uploading the videos from our Risk Jesus sessions featuring Jennifer Fulwiler, Rev. Dwight Longenecker, Bishop Loverde, and Fr. Juan Puigbó in coming days.

By: Rev. Paul Scalia

And behold, there came a voice to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kgs 19:13)

Elijah must have been tempted to frustration, perhaps even anger, with the Lord. Here he was — devout, faithful, zealous. He had witnessed to the Lord against the false prophets and journeyed 40 days to Mount Horeb. He stood waiting on the Lord. And yet, he gets no greeting from the Lord.  No kudos, thanks, or congratulations. Only a question: What are you doing here, Elijah?

But…it was a fair question. Mount Horeb was, if not exactly God-forsaken, not quite a destination spot either. The prophet had to pause and think. What was his purpose? What had driven him out to a cave on a remote mountain? What was he doing there?

The entire scene provides a good way to approach prayer. When (if?) we pray, we typically just start saying our prayers, without much reflection as to the purpose. They are pre-programmed and we just hit the play button. But if we hear in our minds the Lord’s question to Elijah — What are you doing here? — then our time of prayer is opened up tremendously. Elijah renewed his purpose as he reflected upon the question. So also for us: What is the purpose of prayer? What am I doing here? Thus, by reflecting on Elijah’s encounter with the Lord at Mount Horeb, we can better understand our prayer, our own encounters with God.


First, Elijah fled to Mount Horeb, to find refuge in the Lord. He had confronted Israel’s false prophets and punished them severely (cf. 1 Kgs 18). In response Queen Jezebel, their patroness, had promised to murder Elijah (cf. 1 Kgs 19:1-2). So he fled, seeking protection, security, divine assistance. He was there because he needed God.

So also we pray because we need to. Because we are in need of similar refuge and assistance. The most basic meaning of the word “pray” is “plead” or “beg.” We do not come into the Lord’s presence as equals to Him. We do not negotiate with Him from a position of power. Rather, we appeal to Him from a position of weakness. We flee to Him because we are in need. Blessed are the poor in spirit — those who have no delusions about their own strength, those who, like Elijah, fly to the Lord in their weakness and need.

But Elijah was not only fleeing from something. He was also going to something. If he only intended to avoid Jezebel and her minions, he could have gone to many different places. But he intended more than flight. He went to Mount Horeb for a reason — because it is Mount Sinai, the place where Israel first encountered the Lord, the place of the covenant between Israel and the Lord. He, who had witnessed to the Lord’s fidelity to His covenant, went to the place where that covenant was born. He went there for renewal.

Although prayer might begin with begging, it should also seek more. Every time we pray, we should, in effect, go back to the beginning of the covenant, to that first encounter and experience with the Lord, to those original gifts He bestowed on us. For ancient Israel, that meant the covenant on Mount Sinai/Horeb. For us, it means our Baptism. We pray in order to renew our childhood, to rekindle in our minds and hearts the awareness of being children of God. One of our greatest weaknesses is forgetfulness of God — of His love, His mighty deeds, His promises. Prayer is the time to recover our memory, to recall again with grateful hearts all that He has already accomplished for us.

Finally, Elijah went to Mount Horeb for strength. His mission was not over. In the conversation that follows the Lord’s question, it is clear that Elijah is to return to Israel, that land of apostasy and persecution, to continue his witness. Indeed, the Lord instructs him to return and promises him assistance (1 Kgs 19:15-17). His encounter with the Lord at Mount Horeb provided him the strength necessary to live his vocation.

Although a refuge, prayer is not an escape. Certainly, prayer involves a certain detachment from the world. We are of no use to the world if we are no different from it, if we have lost our saltiness (cf. Mt 5:13). But that does not mean a rejection of the world. Yes, we ought to run to prayer for protection and renewal. But we cannot use it to avoid the world and its difficulties. Prayer looks also to the witness we have to give before others. We pray, therefore, to be strengthened, to be rendered more effective witnesses in word and deed. Our time of prayer should always conclude with a request for the strength to be witnesses to the truth of the Faith.

What are you doing here? Imagine our Lord asking you that question the next time you pray. A more deliberate reflection on our reasons for being there helps to deepen our ability to pray. It expresses our weakness and need for Him, it reminds us of our status as His children, and it obtains the strength needed to be His witnesses.

This is the fourth of seven posts that will take up some questions of God that satisfy more than the answers of man.

By: Natalie Plumb

Don’t miss Risk Jesus ’14! With hard-hitting talks from speakers, opportunities for confession, a Holy Hour led by Bishop Loverde, and a chance to network with ministry leaders—Risk Jesus will be a leaping first step for those who’ve never heard “Come and see.” Visit: arlingtondiocese.org/riskjesus. Click on the photo below to view my Storify collage of “What people are saying about #RiskJesus!” All for the #NewEvangelization — #RiskShare it!

Larger - What people are saying about #RiskJesus

Click to see me on Storify!

Natalie writes on Thursdays about faith, dating, relationships, and the in between. May her non-fiction stories and scenarios challenge you. May they help you laugh, cry, think and wonder.


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