Celebrating Christ ‘in all his cultures and his colors’
Auxiliary Bishop Alexander Salazar, presider, greeted the congregation perfumed with incense that had been brought in by Mayan dancers who swirled around the altar in an opening dance of praise.
“We gather today to show that we are a variety of people from all different parts of the world, and yet we gather together around this one altar of the Lord,” said Bishop Salazar, director of the archdiocesan Office of Ethnic Ministry.
Noting in his Trinity Sunday homily that the Holy Spirit “found delight” in humanity, the bishop, alternating between English and Spanish, commented:
“God created [the human race] in its diversity that we are, the many cultures that we come from. God didn’t make us all the same; he made us all different. There’s only one of us. We’re all unique, and we love each one of us because his Son died for each of us. When we come before the Lord, He nourishes us at the table that makes all of us one in Christ Jesus.”
“I think the multicultural Mass delivers the message very liturgically and graphically that we are one Body of Christ,” said Father William McLean, associate pastor and co-organizer of the event. “The message is enfleshed in the variety of costumes and languages spoken during the liturgy. People tell me they see it right in front of them, dramatized.”
For Eudist Father Gérard Lecomte, pastor and a native of France, the multicultural Mass highlighted parish unity among the diversity of its parishioners. “We are united in Christ, and we are celebrating cultures as being evangelized, as being united around the Eucharist,” said Father Lecomte, wearing a green Vietnamese costume borrowed from Deacon Son Hoang, a native of Vietnam.
“Secondly,” he added, “it’s important to me to see how the Gospel has gone through all these countries and all these people are gathered here in this country, probably the most multicultural nation in the world. Today we celebrate Christ in his body — in all his cultures and his colors.”
Native Cuban Teresita Marquina, whose six-year-old daughter held the “Cuba” sign next to the Cuban flag bearer during the parade of flags, said the multicultural event focuses on the many cultures represented in the parish that may not be obvious to Mass-goers.
“You don’t really know how many different cultures are part of your parish,” said Marquina. “This is a nice way to show the parish community all the different people and the variety of cultures — the richness of the parish itself.”
Lori Haggard, whose ten-month-old twins wore costumes representing their maternal grandparents’ countries of origin (Ireland and Guatemala), said the event shows that people come from everywhere.
“It doesn’t matter what country they’re from, we still believe in the same thing. We all believe in God, and we all love God,” said Haggard.
“This event has really brought all the nations that are represented here together in this parish as a community,” said Italian native Peter Guerriero, wearing a red “Italia” shirt. “We’re all united as one; no matter where you come from, we’re all one congregation.”
“I think it’s really brought a sense of community,” said Virginia Tanawong, who helped coordinate the procession of flags. “People recognize that there are parishioners from so many different cultures around the world, that there are new immigrants and immigrants who have been here for generations. It really brings a sense of community and I think a sense of celebration.”
“The multicultural Mass is really inspiring when you see all the different countries coming together,” said parish finance council chairman Ernie Star, whose wife, Eva, emigrated from Austria. “The unity in Christ and in the faith really impresses me. It brings me to tears every year to see it.”