HISPANIC CATHOLICS ARE NOT COMING, THEY ARE HERE

My favorite source for news about the Catholic Church in the United States which is the mother of all ecclesial blogs (http://whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com) recently reported that there is statistical evidence now that baptized Hispanics now outnumber any other grouping of Catholics and is above fifty percent. It affirms what every Church leader should recognize and accept as Gospel, the Church in the United States is already a very heavily Hispanic Catholic church. There is absolutely nothing to fear from this fact and a lot to be grateful for.

Last Saturday, this diocese celebrated Hispanic Heritage day with our annual Hispanic Mass at Nativity Church in Brandon and the large Church was filled to the brim.

Nativity Catholic Church was filled to the brim at the annual Hispanic Mass. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

Nativity Catholic Church was filled to the brim at the annual Hispanic Mass. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

To help Hispanics (and sometimes ignorant bishops like myself) understand the cultural beauty of their faith, it has been the custom every year to honor the Blessed Mother in October by choosing her patronage from a Hispanic country. This year it was Our Lady of Lujan (Nuestra Señora de Luján), the patroness of Argentina.

Our Lady of Lujan. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens

Our Lady of Lujan. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens

Funny how she appeared with the Church’s first Argentinian pope but then my wonderful former secretary, Vivi Iglesias, who is now the Associate Director of the Office for Hispanic Ministry is also from Argentina (oh, well – I guess I am just another suspicious Irishman but then I don’t totally buy into Our Lady of Knock [too cold for her!]).

The Liturgy was wonderful – talk about complete and active participation – these people know how to do it and then some. I loved every minute of it and the joy on the congregation’s faces was enough to keep me going for yet another year.

Praying the Our Father together. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

Praying the Our Father together. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

Click here to see more photos from this year’s Hispanic Mass.

Last night, over 1000 people gathered at Sacred Heart parish in Tampa for a Candlelight Prayer Vigil for a Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

2013 Prayer Vigil for Immigration Reform

The Church was wonderfully full! Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

There were far too many people to fit in the Church (holds 650) so the overflow was outside.

The overflow outside during the prayer vigil. Photo kindness of Sabrina Burton Schultz.

The overflow outside during the prayer vigil. Photo kindness of Sabrina Burton Schultz.

We peacefully and prayerfully processed down Florida Avenue three blocks to the Sam Gibbons Federal Courthouse .

2013 Prayer Vigil for Immigration Reform

Processing down Florida Avenue toward the Sam Gibbons Federal Courthouse. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

 

Peacefully and prayerfully processing to the courthouse. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

Peacefully and prayerfully processing to the courthouse. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

In front of the courthouse, we concluded the Prayer Vigil Service (it was the only Federal property which we could find even though our minds and hearts are fixed on the Obama Administration and Congress hoping they will address this urgent matter when the current nonsense comes to an end).

Praying in front of the courthouse. Photo kindness of Jeanne Smith.

Praying in front of the courthouse. Photo kindness of Jeanne Smith.

 

The faithful praying in front of the courthouse. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

The faithful praying in front of the courthouse. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

 

Praying in front of the courthouse. Photo kindness of Jeanne Smith.

Praying in front of the courthouse. Photo kindness of Jeanne Smith.

This short video might give you another sense of the prayerful and peacefully energy that accompanied us, as well as the number of people in attendance.

To see more photos from the Prayer Vigil for Immigration Reform, please click here.

In the immigration experience of the last two centuries, the Catholic Church played a major role in settling, resettling, educating, inculcating, medicating, and safeguarding the rights of immigrants. I hope our generation of Catholics will be known for the same.

Click here if you wish to read my words this evening at the Prayer Vigil, but some of you may find it upsetting. To me, it has always been interesting that I get the greatest pushback when I speak out for immigration generosity and against the death penalty. The common complaint is, “Bishop, stick to the Gospel and leave politics alone!” But then, many of these same people and same voices articulate their complaint with me that I do not become more actively involved in the politics of the abortion issue. Go figure. I haven’t been able to.

So lots of time the last seventy-two hours was spent with and speaking for the rapidly growing Hispanic community of this local Church. Wish you could be with me for it because it is just wonderful.

+RNL

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply