In this second part of a 2-part blog series, Daniel Rice discusses his visits to various churches in this diverse Diocese through his work with our Multicultural Ministries Office.
Part II: “The Diocesan Catholic Multicultural Mosaic”
By: Daniel Rice, Seminarian of the Diocese of Arlington
Although I am living at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, in Alexandria, this summer, parish work is not actually my summer assignment. I have the singular opportunity of working full time in the diocesan Office of Multicultural Ministries. It has been wonderful getting to know so many people who work in the Chancery. I couldn’t have asked for a better supervisor or better co-workers in the office. I have also been learning a lot of Spanish, due to my fun-loving next-door neighbors in the Spanish Apostolate (Apostolado Hispano). Being with such good people makes up for having to sit at a desk and do office work, which is my little cross for the summer. However, after a few days of emails, surveys, and other miscellaneous projects, I am rewarded with a weekend of visiting and engaging with culturally diverse Catholic Communities.
Each weekend, I visit two or three of the Catholic communities within our Diocese. I had no idea how much cultural diversity there is in Northern Virginia; I have been to Masses and events with Hispanic, Filipino, Ghanaian, Korean, Eritrean, Brazilian, African American, Cameroonian, Indian and Vietnamese Catholic communities, and the sizes of most of these are surprisingly large. I have been blessed to experience not only the differences in these cultures, but also the joy and devotion of so many of the faithful. Since not all communities have seminarians for the summer, I am attempting to visit as many as possible, promoting vocations by telling my story at different events or just speaking for a couple of minutes about vocations after Mass.
The highlight of the summer thus far in the Office of Multicultural Ministries was my first weekend, the weekend of Corpus Christi. I began by visiting the Eritrean Community, whose Ge’ez Rite Divine Liturgy (Mass) was both beautiful and strange (in the sense of foreign, unfamiliar, new and wonder-provoking) to an American such as myself. I was struck by the brotherly love with which they greeted and spoke to each other in their native language of Tigrinya, as well as their reverent dress and Middle Eastern chant, which bespoke the sacredness of the realities made present there.
That evening, I attended a Mass with a Filipino Community, who welcomed me with great kindness and many photos. Fr. Jerome Magat’s fantastic homily on the Eucharist highlighted the Tagalog word for “faith” and the word “Amen,” which convey not only belief, but a determination to live and die in accord with the truth to which one adheres. The Filipino people indeed portray this great faith and fidelity to Christ and His Church.
The next day, I went to a Ghanaian Mass, which was not only the feast of Corpus Christi, Father’s Day, and the occasion of the commissioning of two Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, but also a wedding. Lasting three hours, this joyful Mass was full of African song and dance in praise of God. The very love and vows of the couple who got married beautifully reflected the love of God for His Church, a love which led Jesus Christ to offer us His Body and Blood at the last supper, on the cross, and at every Mass. If you so desire, I invite you to read about these and many more of my diocesan Multicultural Ministries’ visits.
For my fellow seminarians and I, the summer is a time of goodness among family, friends, and the people of God. While we give what we can, I find myself receiving much more than I give. As with every summer, I have learned from and been welcomed by the faithful people of the Diocese of Arlington. Through them, God is teaching me for what and for whom I am preparing to lay down my life. I pray that my brothers and I may return to seminary this autumn with thanksgiving for the gifts we have received and with a greater knowledge of the ministry, the service, the self-gift, and the life for which we are preparing. I look forward to hearing about their experiences and lessons learned, and also to sharing with them the unique and valuable formation that I have received this summer.
Mary, Mother of seminarians, pray for us.
This summer, seminarian Daniel Rice is living at Blessed Sacrament parish and working in the diocesan Office of Multicultural Ministries, which serves the pastoral needs of the various ethnic communities within the Diocese of Arlington. Follow their office United Through Diversity blog to hear more about his visits to our parishes this summer.