HAMLIN — Migrant workers from Mexico gather annually in each other’s homes in the Brockport area to continue a tradition from their homeland of praying a novena leading up to the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
This year, they shared that tradition with several northwest Monroe County parishes and prayed together in each other’s homes and at the different churches on the nine evenings before the Dec. 12 feast day, which was celebrated at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Brockport. In addition to Nativity, the other churches participating in the novena were St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Hamlin, St. John the Evangelist in Spencerport and St. Leo in Hilton.
"This is a wonderful thing," Alicia Jacobo said on Dec. 5 at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in regard to the collaboration. "We are coming together."
"They make us feel welcome," said Silvia Escamilla, who brought her two young daughters with her Dec. 5.
Masses in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe also were held at parishes in Geneva, Penfield, Marion and Rochester on Dec. 11 and 12.
About 40 parishioners from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and Nativity gathered for the fifth night of the novena Dec. 5 at the Hamlin parish, with rosaries in hand as they prayed the Joyful Mysteries. A Guadalupe statue, which the Nativity parishioners brought with them each night as part of the novena, stood on the altar along with a Guadalupe portrait that belongs to the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.
The idea to pray the rosary together came from Jorge Salgado, a migrant minister with the Diocese of Rochester, explained Wayne Dehrer, who serves on the Hamlin parish’s social-ministry committee.
"We just wanted to get to know them (the migrant community) better and invite them into our community," he said.
Since St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. John the Evangelist and St. Leo parishes make financial contributions to migrant ministries, it only made sense for them to have more interaction with the migrant community, Salgado said. They hope to continue the collaboration with activities during Lent, he added.
"For us, it’s important that (the parishes) see how active our ministry is," Salgado said.
Jacobo said that she felt good that the parishes wanted to learn more about the migrant community’s customs.
"It is important that they understand that essential element of our (Mexican) community; we are most devoted to Our Lady of Guadalupe," she said.
The parish communities in northwest Monroe County and Nativity are neighbors and should get to know each other better, said Cathy Koss, a longtime parishioner at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. She knew about the Guadalupe devotion but not the novena.
Parishioner Trish Fatta said that it was way past time for the migrant and parish communities to do more together.
"This is a new beginning, a good start to encompass their community with ours," she added.