Joseph and Mary are searching for shelter...not just over their heads, but in our hearts.
Quite some years ago now, the “center” of local Catholic ministry for our Hispanic brothers and sisters shifted from Wooster (St. Mary) to Orrville (St. Agnes). For multiple reasons, this was seen as appropriate and a good thing. However, as a consequence I fear that this substantial portion of the Catholic population of Wayne County is largely unknown— if not invisible— to us here.
A number of Latino families regularly worship at Mass in English here at St. Mary, and we are always delighted when Anglo persons come to St. Agnes for the afternoon Mass on Sunday (which is always published in our bulletin). Yet, there are many more close at hand. I recognize that language differences can be a challenge. However, I imagine that many parishioners have traveled to countries where English is not the native tongue, and have managed very well to interact, at least at a basic level.
So, I want to assure all of the community of St. Mary that the ministry is alive and well. Of note, last Saturday night, Fr. Rich celebrated—in anticipation of the actual December 12 date— the great feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. And while a number of different home countries are represented locally, this week an observance specifically originating in Mexico will take place: Las Posadas.
Las Posadas, (Spanish: “The Inns”) commemorates the journey that Joseph and Mary made from Nazareth to Bethlehem in search of a safe refuge where Mary could give birth to the baby Jesus. When they were unable to find lodging in Bethlehem, Joseph and Mary were forced to seek shelter in a stable, where the Christ Child was born. It is a form of novena, beginning on December 16 and continuing through to Christmas Eve. Families will gather on each of these evenings to pray and share fellowship in the hall at St. Agnes. Often there is a procession, with children portraying the holy parents. These gatherings begin at 5:30 p.m.
Fr. Rich, in addition to sharing his gifts with the community of St. Mary, has brought the gift of fluency to the priestly ministry at St. Agnes. He recently ministered with great compassion to the grieving, on the occasion of the deaths of two young men of Hispanic heritage: please remember Juan Hernandez and Jose Torres in your
I want to encourage us to remember that far from being a nostalgic commemoration, the reality of the journey of the parents of the Son of God, which historically took place over two thousand years ago, provides us with a profound reminder to be on alert to the opportunities we have today, to recognize God searching for an entrance into our hearts, veiled by many “disguises,” but nonetheless in our midst. Our neighbors are very near!
As college students head home on break, and as some of our families will be traveling even as of next weekend, allow me to extend blessing for safe passage and occasions of deep embrace of the mystery of God-with-us— Emmanuel.