I have seen the future, and it is very, very Spanish. And it is very, very, very young!
St. Stephen's parish in Minneapolis this morning celebrated its 125th birthday as the 9th parish in the City of Minneapolis. In honor of the occasion, Archbishop John Nienstedt came to celebrate the Mass with the combined English and Spanish language parishioners and some invited guests.
One large invited group of about 50 was the Emmanuel Community, an international lay apostolate group that has worked with St. Stephen's pastor, Father Joseph Williams, in evangelizing the neighborhood surrounding the parish: Stephen's Square, Institute of Arts, etc. They have knocked on every door within the parish boundaries the past two Lents.
It was standing room only in the church so it was difficult to count the attendance, especially with all the babes in arms (not to mention the overflow crowd watching the Mass on television in the Church's downstairs hall. But it must have been 500 or more. And the average age of the Hispanic community had to be somewhere in their lower 20s.
The Mass was a wonderful multi-lingual experience with plenty of Spanish, Latin and English used in the hymns and the words of the Mass. With six concelebrating priests and a deacon, no Extraordinary Ministers were needed.
After Mass Father Williams thanked all those who helped with the 125th celebration, and in particular thanked the Archbishop for all of his help to him when he took over the parish two years ago and for not closing the parish last week.
Archbishop Nienstedt did reveal that the first draft of the archdiocesan plan did recommend that St. Stephen's be merged with the Basilica. But because he had been regularly involved with the problems in recreating the parish after the departure of many of its former members, he knew of the successes that Father Williams had been having and he immediately removed that option as a possibility.
A reception was held after Mass in the school building across the street.