Sunday, September 26, 2010

Brick by Brick: The Hispanic Church is growing here

Something like 25 out of the 217 parishes in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis have at least one Spanish language Mass on Sundays.

St. Stephen's parish in south Minneapolis near the Institute of Arts, is growing more than others. Under the leadership of its pastor, Fr. Joseph Williams, rather fluent in Spanish himself, has become a Spanish language dominant parish in the past several years to the point where they are having problems being able to seat all the attendees at the 9:00 Sunday morning Mass. There is another one at 6:00 p.m., too. In addition, there is a 4:45 bi-lingual Mass on Wednesdays and another at 7:00 p.m. on Thursdays.

More chairs have been added and it is anticipated that the parish, currently celebrating its 125th year, will survive the announcement of the archdiocesan restructuring plan on the weekend of October 16-17. Then more pews will be added along with improvements including a new sound system to the sanctuary. The Hispanic parishioners have already contributed $3,000 towards the cost of the new system.

Each Sunday morning about 150 of the Hispanic parishioners attend classes to improve their knowledge of the faith. And this coming weekend, 400 of them are expected to attend a retreat in the parish's old school building.

Today, most of the Twin Cities area's Mexican immigrants from a town in Mexico where a fiesta celebrating St. Michael the Archangel (San Miguel Arcangel) is one of the town's most important fiestas came to St. Stephen's for a special 1:00 p.m. Mass, featuring music, dancing and many baptisms. The church was gorgeously decorated with flowers for the event.

Wouldn't it be great if all our parishes had activities like that?


Anonymous said...

Praise God! Glad to see this vibrant parish rise from the wreckage. Many of the progressives spoke giddily of this parish's demise after they left to form a breakaway community. Fr. Williams is doing God's work and deserves our prayers and support.

Mitchell Hadley said...

While it's great to see a vibrant parish, I always have some reservations about the possible ghettoization of the Church through the language of the liturgy.

At the risk of sounding xenophobic, the vernacular language in the United States is English, and a Mass said in the vernacular should be said in English (saving special occasions). That goes for St. Louis and French, Holy Cross and Polish, and any other language. Anything else just serves to reinforce a lack of inculturation.

There is the old saying: if you want to use a common language, use Latin.

Now, having said that, I am certainly thrilled to see St. Stephen's rise.

Unknown said...

I would agree with what you say, Mitchell.

But as a genealogist who knows that three sets of great grandparents were founding members of St. Mary, Star of the Sea, parish in Duluth in 1883, I'm sure that that parish was all Polish language for the first 50 years.

Times are different these days and there is more language training assistance for young Hispanics. I'm sure that most will be speaking English fluently soon, largely because most of them are immersed in public schools.

That may not be the case everywhere.

Be that as it may, the "ghettoization" as you call it, is not good.

My proposed solution to Fr. Joseph Williams last weekend was MORE LATIN!! My great-grandparents didn't have to learn Latin. Only the sermons were in Polish.

Father seemed sympathetic to the idea of more Latin and in the interim he has some bi-lingual Masses, including one later in October when the Archbishop will be present to help us celebrate our 125th anniversary.