A colorful procession of flags representing Hispanic countries once again opened the annual Fey Y Cultura – Faith and Culture – celebration, presented by the Hispanic Ministry of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland. The celebration took place on Oct. 12 at Parroquia Blessed Trinity (Blessed Trinity Parish) in Cleveland’s West Park neighborhood. Before Mass, Father Doug Koesel, Blessed Trinity pastor, welcomed the group to his parish.
Bishop Nelson Perez celebrated the Mass, assisted by Father Mark Riley, pastor of San Miguel Archangel (St. Michael the Archangel) Parish in Cleveland and Father Chris Zerucha, pastor of St. Bernard and St. Mary parishes in Akron.
St. Michael and St. Bernard are among the seven parishes in the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland that minister to Hispanics. The others are La Sagrada Familia and Our Lady of Lourdes in Cleveland; Capilla Sagrado Corazon (Sacred Heart Chapel) in Lorain; St. Mary in Painesville and St. Mary in Wooster.
Three deacons assisted at Mass: Deacon Ignacio Miranda and Deacon Epifanio Torres of Sagrada Familia Parish and Deacon Rocky Ortiz of Sacred Heart Chapel.
The first two flags carried in the procession represented the Vatican and the United States. Others included Cuba, the native country of Bishop Perez’s parents; El Salvador, where the diocese has operated a mission for more than 50 years; Mexico; Bolivia; Chile; Colombia; Dominican Republic; Spain; Puerto Rico; Argentina; Nicaragua; Honduras; Panama; Uruguay; Venezuela; Ecuador; Honduras; Guatemala; Peru and Paraguay.
Flag-bearers wore sashes identifying the country whose flag they carried. Some also wore native dress. As the countries were announced, some cheered for their native land. Flags were placed in holders behind the altar and displayed throughout the Mass. Later they were removed and brought downstairs to Fogarty Hall where they were displayed during the meal and entertainment portion of the celebration.
The choir from St. Michael the Archangel provided music at the liturgy.
Bishop Perez celebrated the Mass in Spanish.
In his homily, he talked about the importance of maintaining culture, traditions and heritage, as well as faith. They are entwined, he said. The bishop also noted that discrimination still is a problem for many – especially those who look different or speak a language other than English.
He recalled a time when, as a seminarian, he was the target of a racial slur. A piece of paper was slipped under the door of his room. It was surprising that such a thing would happen in a place like the seminary, he said.
However, he told the congregation that he turned the tables by taking the paper and writing “Spanish Person in Charge.” His comment drew laughter from the group.
The bishop recognized Fathers Riley and Zerucha, as well as other diocesan priests who speak Spanish and minister to Hispanic parishioners. But he also chided the assembly a bit, reminding them that they have not had a “homegrown” vocation to the priesthood. “Don’t look at me,” he quipped. “It’s not up to me.”
At the end of Mass, Bishop Perez congratulated Maria and Roan Barranca, who were celebrating their 63rdwedding anniversary.
The celebration continued in Fogarty Hall after Mass with tamales, chicken, beans and rice, pork and other food, as well as music, dancing and singing.
Click HERE for more information on the Hispanic ministry, which is part of the diocesan Parish Life and Development Office. Misael Mayorga coordinates the Hispanic ministry for the diocese.