Keeping the faith strong in changing times
April 10, 2009
Along with Christmas, Easter is Maria Martinez’s favorite holiday. The teenager has attended Mass at St. Mary’s Catholic Church for about a year and a half. She sat patiently in the pews Thursday evening with her sister, Renata, waiting for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper to begin.
Holy Thursday, the fifth day of the most sacred week in the Christian calendar, commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with his disciples. In the service, the priest symbolically becomes the servant of God and washes the feet of worshipers, as Jesus did for his followers.
Holy Week services, culminating in Easter Sunday, allow the Martinez sisters to worship in both English and Spanish. "It’s great because more people come to church," she said.
During most of the year, Father Bob Bussen conducts the liturgy for Anglos and Latinos. Easter is the one of the only times, along with the church’s anniversary celebration Aug. 15, he interweaves the two. One song may be in Spanish while the next prayer may be in English. "It’s hard to sustain friendship unless you can bridge that language gap," Bussen said. "When we are together you feel it."
For Jim Gonsalves, who sings in English at the services, bilingual Mass expresses the size and shifting demographic makeup of Summit County. "If you look at the meaning of Catholicism, it’s coming together," he said. "It’s a wonderful expression of faith to have a bilingual liturgy."
Worshiper Nancy Totsi has seen the number of Latinos who attend Mass at St. Mary’s triple in the decade since the congregation moved into its facility near State Route 224. Easter is a good time for Totsi to brush up on Spanish and gives kids an important learning opportunity. "It’s an interesting perspective to change from English and Spanish, a trick of the tongue," she said.
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St. Mary’s holds an Easter vigil service Saturday at 8 p.m. Easter services will be held at 7:30, 9:30, 11:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. The church is located at 1505 West White Pine Canyon Rd.