Marymount University hosted a Hungarian Mass and was the starting point for the first Hungarian pilgrimage in the United States on Saturday, Aug. 20, part of a celebration of St. Stephen the Great, that countrys first king and patron saint.
The events were particularly moving for Stefan Fedor, president of the American Hungarian Heritage House.
For me personally, this is the culmination of really recognizing, and taking to the next level, the freedom of religion we have in this country, said Fedor, who grew up in then-Czechoslovakia. It reminded me of my father, who passed away in 1995. He was a devout Catholic at a time and place where there was discrimination against Christians. The authorities there wanted everyone to believe in Communism but thats not how God wants us to live.
Though some Catholics practiced their faith in secret, Fedors family openly went to church each Sunday.
For me this day showed how far we have come, that here you can be Hungarian American and celebrate Mass in your native language, Fedor said.
The day began with 8:30 a.m. Mass in Marymounts Sacred Heart of Mary Chapel celebrated in Hungarian by Father Richard Bona, a Hungarian American. Marymount arranged to have the Mass streamed live online.
We received very nice feedback from Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, Fedor said, along with Hungarian communities in American cities such as Boston and Cleveland.
Afterward, Father Böjte Csaba, a Franciscan monk and founder of the Children of Saint Francis Foundation of Déva, Romania (once part of Hungary), discussed his work. The foundation has helped more than 5,000 poor and orphaned children receive a Christian education, housing, clothing and a dignified life. In addition to an orphanage that currently houses more than 2,100 children, it runs daycare centers and homes across Transylvania and parts of Hungary.
At 11 a.m., Father Csaba and Fedor led a nine-mile pilgrimage to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. Twenty-three people started the pilgrimage, their ages ranging from 14 to 75. Ten completed the entire route.
It included multiple prayer stops, including the Colonial Revival Garden behind The Old Stone House in Georgetown, the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle and the future Hungarian Embassy. The Hungarian Scouts, a youth scouting organization, manned five water stops along the way.
In old, traditional pilgrimages, villagers would come out and offer food and drink for the ones walking, Fedor said. We joked that this was a 21st century pilgrimage.
It concluded at the basilica with Father Csaba celebrating Mass in Hungarian. A reception in his honor followed at the Hungarian Embassy.
Fedor praised Marymount President Matthew Shank and Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Joseph Foster for making the days events possible.
Marymount was honored to host a Hungarian Mass and to be the starting point for the first ever Hungarian pilgrimage in the US, Dr. Shank said. Our partnership with Hungary continues to grow academically and culturally and is a tremendous example of our global perspective.
The university is the cultural host site of the American Hungarian Heritage House. That non-profit strives to provide a physical and spiritual home for all American Hungarian organizations in the Washington, D.C., metro area. Its primary purpose is to provide support and a place for cultural, educational, and religious assistance to people of American Hungarian descent.
Other collaborations with Marymount include Hungarian students staying in residence halls while competing in an International Court of Justice Moot Court and an agreement with the National University of Public Service of Hungary to collaborate on curriculum, training, research and travel by students and faculty.
Fedor said an important part of the days events was including the younger generation.
During Mass, the scripture readings were done by the scouts, he said. Its important for them to embrace this and to understand that you can be Hungarian and American at the same time.
The first Hungarian pilgrimage in the United States started from Marymount Universitys Arlington campus on Saturday, Aug. 20, and ended nine miles later at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.
Father Böjte Csaba, a Franciscan monk and founder of the Children of Saint Francis Foundation of Déva, Romania (once part of Hungary), celebrated a Mass in Hungarian at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.
Stefan Fedor, president of the American Hungarian Heritage House, grew up in a Communist country, where his Catholic family faced discrimination. For me this day showed how far we have come, that here you can be Hungarian American and celebrate Mass in your native language, Fedor said.
The days events concluded with a reception honoring Father Csaba at the Hungarian Embassy.