OREGON CITY — Since October, St. John the Apostle Parish here has been celebrating a Mass in Spanish. This Easter marked the parish's first bilingual Easter Mass.
"This is the first time the Hispanic community has had the opportunity to meet and share with the other parishioners who are not Hispanic at Easter," said Dominga Lopez, coordinator of Hispanic Ministry at the parish. "Our Lord was praised in three different languages; Spanish, English and Latin. We are very excited to share this gift with all our members."
Around 200 Hispanics come to Mass in Spanish every Sunday at the parish. Lopez says pastor Msgr. Richard Huneger wants to reach 500 Hispanics by the end of the year.
"Our pastor has encouraged us to invite our families, neighbors and everyone we know, including those who have fallen away from the church for some time to join in this special celebration," said Lopez.
The parish sent out flyers and printed announcements in the bulletin, inviting the entire parish to celebrate the bilingual Mass on Easter Sunday with music, food, egg hunts, and a piñata.
Hispanic ministers Jesus and Rosario Muñoz Martínez Luz, Juvenal and Laura Jaimes, and parish ministers Krisi Christensen, Beth Link and Cathy Robeson prepared the music for the Mass. The Easter party was held after the Mass at the church park.
"For me, it's a new beginning and I hope that our parish will truly be one church in Christ," said Lopez. "We must learn to do things differently and reach all those who are disconnected from the Catholic church. During Holy Week we renewed the promise to love others as God has loved us. It's a time not to be afraid to reach out to others, regardless of our differences."
Some bilingual Hispanic parishioners like Juvenal and Laura Jimenez, Jesse and Louise Luna, Jose and Rosa Iglesias had been asking for a Mass in Spanish for several years.
Last year, Archbishop Alexander Sample requested the parish begin a Mass in Spanish, and the response has been a welcoming one with the parish starting a Hispanic ministry program in October 2013.
"In no time we were ready to begin the Hispanic ministry in a parish of mostly Anglos," said Lopez. "I think the parish had to wait until it was time for God to be willing to open their doors and hearts to a new community. This was a very important day in our Christian life and a good start to unite two cultures in one mind and live the Resurrection of Our Savior," said Lopez.