ROCHESTER — A historic moment took place Oct. 17 at Sacred Heart Cathedral when the first Mass said entirely in Spanish was celebrated by Bishop Matthew H. Clark.
More than 500 Latino parishioners from churches throughout the 12-county diocese came out to mark the more than 50 years of Hispanic ministry in the diocese. Masses said in Spanish first began in the 1950s and 1960s and have grown in number as the Hispanic population has grown, diocesan officials said.
Several city parishes were represented at the Mass as well as churches in Geneva, Newark, Avon, Brockport and King Ferry. The native countries of these parishioners were on display as liturgical dancers carried posters of Latin American flags during the opening procession.
Sister Luci Romero, a migrant minister from Wayne County, said she accompanied about 40 adults and children — mainly Mexicans who now live in Wayne County — to the special Mass, and most of them were visiting the cathedral for the first time as well. For the members of the diocese’s Latino community to be together and celebrating in their own language using their music and symbols was very moving, she said.
"It’s a unifying experience, an experience of identity," she said. "It was beautiful and joyful."
The Mass, which was more than a year in the planning, was concelebrated by six priests who serve the Latino community. Brother Juan Lozada, director of the diocese’s Spanish Apostolate, two deacons and two seminarians from Colombia also participated.
The Oct. 17 Mass was a moment of joy to have so many of the diocese’s faith communities together at the cathedral, Bishop Clark said.
"It’s a call to open our hearts to God’s word spoken to us at this liturgy," he noted.
The liturgy’s readings about Moses and the widow also demonstrated the importance of fidelity and perseverance, the bishop said.
"Justice is living up to our relationships (as we) honor God and honor our neighbor," he commented.