Christmas in the Streets

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– December was a month of great activity for the Latino community. Its religious activity is marked by a great variety of national devotions whose common denominator has to be found in the Blessed Virgin Mary, venerated under many names, in Christmas, the Holy Family, and the Magi. Latinos find in these religious activities their identity, and from them they draw the necessary strength to face the trials of their daily life.

“Our Lady of Journey” was the song that accompanied their spiritual journey during the month of December and its many festive celebrations that will find their conclusion on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord on January 13th. Every evening, groups of families gathered together in one of their homes to pray the Rosary, to read God’s Word, and to ask for God’s help. Thus they celebrated the Christmas Novena, immersed in the warmth and usual fervor, like Mary and Joseph looking for a place to give birth to Jesus.

On Christmas Day, at noon, there was a public show of their faith, the faith of a people walking in the midst of a society closed behind the doors of conformism and cold toward Christian values. A thousand Latinos walked in the streets in a “live” representation of the Nativity, the great mystery of our redemption.

To curious spectators, the whole thing was just a colorful show worthy of a quick picture. To the faithful Latinos, it was the public proclamation of their Catholic faith and heritage.

Father Paul took the opportunity to say his good-bye to all of them after four years of pastoral ministry among them. He is going to continue his ministry in the streets of Michigan with other people who want to embrace and experience the Emmanuel, the “God-with-us”, the only God who brings salvation.

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Latinos Prepare for the ‘New Evangelization’

Latinos in Chester pray with Fr. Paul

Latinos in Chester pray with Fr. PaulChester – One year ago the Holy Family House in Chester was officially dedicated; giving life to our dreams of ministering to the physical and spiritual needs of the Latino immigrants. It is a humble experience; sharing their difficulties, empowering them to visibly express their faith, celebrating their ways of living family life and their cultural and religious traditions. Statistics report that 36% of U.S. Catholics are Latino, and 68 % of immigrants have lost their Catholic identity as they become immersed in a culture so different from their own.

June 24, 2012, two Base Ecclesial Communities were formed. This custom from their homeland brings together small groups of families that want to live and witness their faith; evangelizing and sustaining others through Bible study, catechetical formation and prayer meetings. By imitating the first Christian communities, sharing their spiritual and material challenges, these groups can help to end the sense of spiritual and social isolation many of the immigrants currently experience.

In October after three months of formation, they will receive the “missionary mandate” to begin evangelizing among Latino families. It is in answer to the Synod of Bishops gathered in Rome suggesting ways to become more active in the New Evangelization of the world.