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Play and pray with Pokémon Go

Pokémon Go has come to the Arlington Diocese and it’s here to stay — for now. The mobile app phenomenon hit gamers’ smart phones July 6 and players have in turn hit the road in droves in search for PokéStops, gyms and the elusive Pokémon characters they are trying to catch. Some players are finding themselves in places they would not normally go — including church.

In the past week, a number of churches in the diocese have seen an increase in traffic because unbeknownst to them there is a gym or Pokémon spot near their location. The Pastor and church employees have no warning that their church has one of these spots until the players come knocking.

Kevin Finn, who works at the front desk at St. Charles Borromeo in Arlington noticed a large group of young men in their 20s hanging out in the parking lot with their phones in the air.

“My daughter told me later that the chapel was listed as a gym,” said Finn. A gym is a place where Pokémon players can come and train or do battle with other players.

Many parishes are trying to figure out how to reach out to gamers visiting the parish, while also standing firm about not trespassing overnight or catching Pokémon in the church. Seminarian John Paul Heisler described a group of players who came into Church of the Nativity in Burke during the 11a.m. Mass on Sunday in search of a Pokémon. According to Heisler players were oblivious to the sacredness of what was happening.

Father Patrick L. Posey, pastor of St. James in Falls Church, sent out a letter informing parishioners about the six PokéStops on the church property. He welcomed players to visit the church but to be respectful. He also encouraged players to celebrate the feast day of St. James with them at their ice cream social Monday, July 25.

“Hopefully, once a person finds the Pokémon, they will enter the church and find Christ. Just to be clear, I do not believe there is anything wrong with playing Pokémon Go. However, I do …   More

Fireworks and warships


His little voice piped up between the “booms,” “pows” and “bams” that filled the humid night air in the heart of D.C. It was 10 p.m. on the Fourth of July and the bad news was that our 1-year-old was still awake. The good news was that — after hearing our response to exploding colors — he’d learned a new word.

Realizing sleep was futile amid the holiday noise, my husband and I decided to open the curtains above our toddler’s crib, plop down on the floor next to him and watch the neighborhood firework show from the nursery.

I repeated my son’s new word at least once during an interview the following day with Father Jason Burchell, the former parochial vicar of St. Agnes Church in Arlington and soon-to-be chaplain aboard the USS Ronald Reagan. The U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services recently assigned him to the massive warship, which is longer than three football fields placed end to end.

As I’ve written before, one of the things I love about my job as a reporter is expanding my knowledge through interviews and research. My conversation with Father Burchell was a catapult into facts about aircraft carriers and military terms — one of those gems of a story that leaves you with a richer understanding of the world.

I learned that a “Nimitz-class” supercarrier is a designation for 10 nuclear-powered aircraft carriers in service with the U.S. Navy; that the 7th Fleet covers 50 percent of the world’s population; and that military chaplains undergo everything from rigorous physical training to learning how to deal with suicide and depression in the military.

Father Burchell said he’s eager to minister not only to Catholics on the USS Ronald Reagan, but also to men and women of other faiths. “I want to let them know they are loved and that I can help them with anything,” he said.

Father Burchell will board the warship sometime in late summer, but for me the interview was a perfect fit for the …   More

Six funny (Catholic) videos

The description underneath the 2012 “Stuff Catholic Girls Say!” video says, “Yes, we are Catholic. Yes, we do think it’s ok to make fun of ourselves.”

Bridget Wilson, one of the creators of the video, is now an administrative assistant for the diocesan Office of Family Life. At the time the video was shot, a lot of “Stuff People Say” videos were trending on social media and Wilson and her friend Kimberly Rogers thought of doing their own.

“We were driving to the March for Life and the idea came up,” said Wilson. Almost overnight, their video had more than 500 views. Today it has 550,000.

“We had no idea that it would be so popular,” said Wilson. “We thought that it was just from people watching it at our school (Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio).”

While Wilson doesn’t love the notoriety, she had fun making it. “I think my favorite part was going up to people and saying ‘I love your cardigan’ and ‘I’ll pray for you.' ”

Here are six videos made by people who are unafraid to poke fun at Catholic culture.

1. Nothing gets at the heart of being a Catholic young adult like the “Stuff Catholics Girls Say!” video, from angst over boyfriends entering seminary to missing St. John Paul II. If you’ve ever actively discerned the religious life, lost your catechism in an oversized purse or stressed out over the modesty of your outfit, this video is for you.

If you have any familiarity with Protestant culture,“Shoot Christians Say” is a good one too. Learn about buzzwords like “fellowshipping,” Christian radio stations and a long parody of Christian conference names, like Ignite, Bridge, Dive, Fire, Catalyst, Blue and Clear. (No offense to our own Bash and Rally.)

2. No mention of Catholic comedy would be complete without a plug for Judy McDonald. Here’s a clip of her talking about Ash Wednesday and bands of roving nuns at the Vatican.

3. This animated video series “Give Up Aul …   More

Video: The Restless

Between commuting to their full time jobs and making sure their kids get to school on time, the band members of The Restless pursue their mission of evangelization through music.

Read more about The Restless and the inspiration behind the name:

Songs for the restless   More

Video: Mini-Pilgrimage

When it comes to World Youth Day, pilgrims never know what kind of weather they might get. In an effort to prepare the Arlington pilgrims for the demands that might await them in Kraków, Poland, the Office of Youth Ministry hosted a mini-pilgrimage May 21. Many World Youth Day first-timers expected the event to be canceled when the forecast called for heavy rains, but others who lived through the epic rain and wind storm during the 2011 World Youth Day in Madrid knew better.

Read the full story: World Youth Day mini-pilgrimage — rain or shine   More

Request for prayers for Bishop Loverde

Father Tom Ferguson, Vicar General, shared the following update on June 1: “Please continue to keep Bishop Loverde in your prayers as he recovers from back surgery. Let us pray for his speedy and full recovery, uniting our prayers with him at this time.”


Video: Jordan Willard

Read the story about the New transitional deacons featured in the Arlington Catholic Herald.   More

Homecoming, 84 years after graduation

At the end of this school year, the last Holy Cross sisters teaching in Virginia will retire.

It’s difficult to quantify how many thousands of lives the sisters have touched since they began teaching in Alexandria a few years after the Civil War ended. They founded a girls’ school, St. Mary’s Academy, which closed in 1990; a parish school at St. Mary Church in Alexandria; and taught catechism at the parish’s missions.

For a powerful tribute to the work of the Holy Cross sisters, you need look no further than Marion (Roland) Conrad, 102, a graduate of St. Mary’s Academy class of 1932.

Conrad, a lifelong Alexandria resident until she moved to Virginia Beach at age 95, recently made the long trip back to Alexandria to attend a St. Mary’s Academy reunion. The night was filled with the fond reminiscing expected at a reunion. Conrad, whose three sisters and daughter also graduated from St. Mary’s Academy, told stories including how she couldn’t attend her own graduation ceremony in 1932. The night before the graduation, at the baccaulareate dinner, Conrad became ill. The doctor paid a house call and diagnosed rheumatic fever, so Sister Osmana Kane accepted the diploma on her behalf.

Eighty-four years after graduation, and 26 years after her alma mater closed, Conrad still felt it was important to honor the Holy Cross sisters and the school. That’s the power of a Catholic education.


The ‘rite’ way

As a lifelong Roman Catholic, I have no problem doing what the Romans do. But I felt like a fish out of water when I recently covered the Melkite-Greek Catholic ordination of Father Sabatino Carnazzo.

Everything was just a little different from what I’m used to. The artwork at Holy Transfiguration Church in McLean was all icons. Almost every word in the liturgy was chanted, by both the clergy and laypeople. I had no idea when to stand or sit. Even the incense smelled different — more sweet and soapy.

Through writing the article, I learned a lot of fascinating things about the Eastern rite, and it got me thinking about the “right” way of doing things. While some aspects of our religion — like morality — are black and white, the church in her wisdom allows for variances in terms of liturgy and custom.

Here are a few of the differences between the Roman and Melkite-Greek Catholic traditions:

•The first thing that struck me when I walked into the church was the particular liturgical furnishings and decorations. Anson Groves, a parishioner of Holy Transfiguration, helped fill me in on a few of them. The large, circular golden objects that were carried around the church at certain times are called ripidion or fans. “The kings and popes of old would be fanned while in procession, so we fan Christ the King in the procession,” said Groves. “On the fans are images of the angels who surround the throne in heaven. The movement of the fans is symbolic of the movement of the Holy Spirit: felt but not seen.”

•The priests and deacons often held aloft tall, thin candles — three bound together in one hand, and two in the other. The three together represent the Trinity, while the other two represent the duality of Christ’s nature: fully man and fully God.

•At the words of consecration, the congregants touched the ground and then blessed themselves. “Just as Roman Catholics genuflect, which is a partial kneeling, we have a similar …   More

Video: Seminarians balance prayer, study and fellowship

Three Arlington seminarians at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio describe their lives as a balance of prayer, study, fun and fellowship.

Read the story: A day in the life of a seminarian.


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