Ever since my arrival here at the parish over two years ago, I have tried to reach out to the Hispanic community in Paulding County. A number of parishioners have been helpful in this, but especially Xari and Mel Martinez. Xari and Mel having gone through training in order to help me with marriage prep in Spanish, and then we put together materials in order to help adults receive the rest of their sacraments in Spanish. Xari and Mel had helped to administrate the Christian Family movement in their diocese in Mexico before coming to the United States.
After being here for some months, I realized it could be helpful to preach a summary paragraph of my homily in Spanish, when I see that there is somebody in the congregation who could benefit from this. This happens pretty regularly at Paulding, but on occasion I see somebody in the congregation at one of the other campuses, and so I always have ready that paragraph in Spanish. At our Paulding campus we purchased about 20 bi-lingual missalettes that the ushers hand out to Spanish speakers at Mass.
About a month ago I attended a diocesan sponsored daylong seminar discussing some of the legal conundrums regarding immigrants from Mexico. I already performed some baptisms in Spanish at our parish (with Xari and Mel helping out with pre-baptismal classes), but celebrating the sacrament of marriage can be a bit more complex if all of the legal aspects are not in place for a couple. So I’m researching some of this. The diocesan presentation was super helpful!
After many months of considering it, I am now ready to begin a weekday Mass in Spanish. Many of the Hispanics in the area work on farms that don’t allow them to attend weekend Mass during the day, or even a Saturday Mass at 6 PM. Almost without fail, when we have had any Hispanic events, we’ve held them at 7:30 PM or later, in order to allow people to get there after work. With all of this in mind, I want to offer a 7:30 PM Spanish Mass every week. It seems to me the ideal day for this is Thursday. The Thursday morning Mass, as you know, moves from campus to campus each week. I think it is because of this constant moving that the Thursday Mass is never very well attended. The Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday morning Masses are always very well attended, because people always know where these Masses are. So I think the Thursday Mass is the one to schedule as a Spanish-language Mass every Thursday evening at 7:30 PM. We will start to do this already on Thursday, October 27.
The Spanish Mass will feel like a normal weekday Mass. Because there might be English-speaking parishioners who appreciate an evening Mass, we will have liturgy sheets with the antiphons and readings both in English and Spanish, so everybody in the parish could still attend and understand all that is going on. The Eucharistic prayer and other ordinary parts of the Mass will all be in Spanish. My homily will be primarily in Spanish, but with a paragraph in English as well. We can chant the Spanish antiphons, just as we chant the English antiphons at our daily Masses.
My hope with this Mass is to provide a weekly opportunity for Mass in Spanish for the Hispanic population in our county that now has no other Spanish options. I hope everybody can appreciate the outreach effort we are making with this Mass. I know how much the Diocese wants to reach out to Hispanics, and this can be another part of that outreach on the Diocese’s western border. I think this fits well also with Pope Francis’ request that every aspect of parish life become missionary. The Church exists to transform the world for Christ (cf. Evangelium gaudii/On the Joy of the Gospel paragraphs 19-33). That is why the parish as a whole, and individual parishioners, should always be seeking to reach out to those around us with the Gospel.
On those occasional Thursdays when we would have a school Mass or a Fab 50’s Mass, I plan on keeping those Masses, and still celebrating the evening Spanish Mass. Perhaps I will try to get a guest priest to take the earlier Masses. Or we do have one retired priest in the area who is fluent in Spanish and might be willing to do the evening Spanish Mass. I will figure that out on a case-by-case basis.
Have a blessed week!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,