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3/12/2014 7:29:00 AM
Class builds language, culture bridges
Catholic Sentinel photo
Pat Vale tutors Gresham Catholics in Spanish.
Catholic Sentinel photo
Pat Vale tutors Gresham Catholics in Spanish.

GRESHAM — “Padre nuestro, que estás en el cielo. Santificado sea tu nombre.” Tables grouped with Anglo community members at St. Henry Church here push through the Spanish version of the Lord’s Prayer for their first time. 
The class, Puentes de Lenguaje y Cultura (Bridges of Language and Culture), is coordinated by St. Henry’s Justice and Peace Committee. Attendees learned basic Spanish phrases and structure, as well as culture and traditions of Latin cultures.

Desire for the class arose when St. Henry began hosting Spanish Mass each Sunday at 1:30 p.m. as a way to lighten the load for nearby St. Anne Church, which was hosting seven weekend Masses, five in Spanish. 
Class teacher is Pat Vale, a Jesuit Volunteer who serves nearby at Catholic Charities’ El Programa Hispano. When parishioner Sharon Williams approached him about leading the language and culture course, Vale was enthusiastic. The recent college graduate and fluent Spanish speaker has studied and traveled abroad.  

“We wanted to be more open to other cultures and more welcoming,” Williams said.
Most of the people who signed up for the Monday night classes had little or no Spanish language education. Vale shared phrases and sentence combinations that could help participants interact with members of their parish’s growing Hispanic community.

On March 23 the group will attend Spanish Mass. Many also plan to volunteer at El Programa Hispano.

“There is a huge need among the Latino population to learn English, especially among people living in poverty who don’t have time to do things like this because they are working all the time,” Vale said to the class.

Williams said she has received much positive feedback about the classes. Members of parish ministries, like St. Vincent de Paul, were excited to hone their Spanish skills to better communicate with the people they serve.

Vale also invited two work colleagues to share with the class stories about their experiences moving from Mexico to the United States.

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