As the holidays wind down, I hope that you have had the opportunity to safely celebrate with family, attend virtual or in-person Christmas Mass, and drive through your neighborhoods viewing the sparkling Christmas lights and decorations. We say farewell to 2020 and remain hopeful for a happy and healthier 2021. Many in our community continue to be affected by the pandemic financially, emotionally and physically, and with the cold weather many are in need of our support now more than ever. We seek comfort in our commitment to God, Our Father. A commitment is the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause or activity. Let us continue to be committed to God, Our Father as “One Faith, One Family.”
The Hispanic Ministry and its director, Sister Mary Jude Lazarus, are extremely committed to God, Our Father, and the Spanish-speaking population, serving in the areas of Middletown, Clinton, New London, Norwich and Willimantic.
They are committed to work for the promotion of the family, with special attention to youth; and for social justice, especially to defend and advocate for the most vulnerable immigrants among us. This ministry is carried out in the language and culture of the people, while working for the effective integration of the Hispanic people into their parishes and society, in a way that respects and values the way of being and culture of all.
In the parishes the Sisters have been very energetic and creative, working with their parish staff to support the spiritual growth of the people. They are offering faith formation and spiritual development opportunities through Zoom and in person, while always being faithful, of course, to CDC guidelines. Many of the cultural events have continued, although in a modified form.
The Peruvian celebration of the Lord of the Miracles (El Senor de los Milagros), a celebration at the heart of Peruvian spirituality, takes place every year in October in both St. Mary Norwich and St. Mary New London. There is usually a procession through the streets after the Mass carrying the image, with lots of ethnic dances and festivities. Unfortunately, festivities could not commence in 2020, and fiestas were cancelled.
The Hispanic Ministry also had to cancel its annual celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe Mass, held in early December each year at the Cathedral of St. Patrick. This is usually followed by a celebratory fiesta in the church hall. This year instead, churches had their own small celebrations. Sister Mary Jude said, “We were all disappointed that we were not able to celebrate in the Cathedral with our Bishop and our English-speaking brothers and sisters for the first time in more than 30 years. As this virus continues to bear down upon us with all its devastating effects, I am comforted by the words of Our Lady to Juan Diego:
‘Hear me and understand well...that nothing should frighten or grieve you. Let not your heart be disturbed. Do not fear that sickness, nor any other sickness or anguish. Am I not here, who is your Mother? Are you not under my protection? Am I not your health? Are you not within the fold of my arms? What else do you wish? Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything.’
Oh, lovely Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.”
May we follow Sister Mary Jude and the Hispanic Ministry’s support of one another, and again donate to the 2021 Annual Catholic Appeal, “One Faith, One Family,” set to launch in March. If you have not finished making your 2020 pledge payments, you may contact Heather Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org or (860) 886-1928 to do so. Thank you so much for your generosity. Wishing you a blessed and healthy New Year.
By Gina Foster