“We will no longer say migrants or refugees, but we shall refer to them as our brothers and sisters.” These were the words expressed by Fr Alan Hall, parish priest at the La Divina Pastora RC Church September 29 as the parish community hosted a bilingual Mass for their Venezuelan brothers and sisters to officially welcome them to their parish and by extension the community of Siparia.
The colours of the Venezuelan national flag—red, blue and yellow were most present in the stunning floral arrangements that adorned the altar adding to the warm and welcoming ambience.
The readings and Prayers of the Faithful were read both in English and Spanish by members of the Confirmation Class of 2020. The choir also sang hymns in Spanish, including ‘Señor ten piedad’ (Lord Have Mercy) and ‘Hosanna en el cielo’ (Hosanna in the Highest).
Fr Hall, a graduate of the Languages Department at the Instituto Venezolano para la Cultura y La Cooperacion, officiated speaking fluent Spanish to the amazement of many. Switching from English to Spanish during the Mass for all to follow, Fr Hall jokingly referred to it as ‘Spanglish’.
The gospel (Lk 16:19–31, about the rich man and the poor man, Lazarus) was most fitting, as it teaches us to serve people in need and not ignore the needs of others or be self-absorbed.
In keeping with the theme of serving others, parishioners and our Venezuelan brothers and sisters were invited to a sharing at the Father Lennon Hall after the Mass.
The Siparia Police Youth Club entertained the gathering, performing both Soca and Spanish songs. Some attendees danced while others swayed in their seats. Many enjoyed the luscious beef, chicken and cheese empanadas made by a Venezuelan sister.
Food hampers were distributed to our Venezuelan families and they were given an opportunity to choose items of clothing of their liking which were donated by parishioners.
A Venezuelan brother and his wife emotionally expressed thanks for the warm welcome.
“La misa estuvo muy excelentes. Se comparte palabras nuevas de nuestro Dios y agradecidos los venezolanos por la noble causa que nos brinda la iglesia la pastora nos brindo apollo de comestible de ropa y de ayuda a quien nos necesitamos un evento que nos lleno de alegria y de un rato muy agradable y bendecidos por Dios.”
(Translation: “The Mass was excellent and beautiful words were shared from our God by Fr Hall. We, the Venezuelans, are thankful for the noble cause that was shared at the La Divina Pastora RC Church. They helped us so much with food and clothing. It filled us with joy and we were blessed by God.”)
The Parish Ministry for Migrants and Refugees (PMMR) and parishioners all wish to continue to assist our brothers and sisters as best as they can. PMMR member Coryse Marie Noel indicated that one of their intentions is to start classes for the children and welcome all who are willing to volunteer in any way possible. — Asha C Edwards, PMMR member