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Creating a beautiful family

“The main goal of our Stewardship is to create a beautiful family of English-speaking and Spanish- speaking people,” said Father Urbano Sáenz Ramirez, O.S.A., pastor at Our Lady of Guadalupe, Port Arthur.
This “family building” was one reason the parish was nominated for a 2015 Bishop Curtis Guillory Stewardship award.
Building this family required communication that reaches all members of the church.
The parish works to accomplish this by sending all parish communication in English and Spanish.
“Things get lost in translation, a lot of families have the children translate for them,” Marisol Barajas, Our Lady of Guadalupe Stewardship Committee member, said. The parish helped alleviate this problem with a new website.
“We went to a completely bilingual web site. It kicked off our new movement,” Barajas said. All social media is also featured in English and Spanish.
“With everyone having smartphones, they can get the information if it is in their language,” she said.
Four volunteers also translate the church bulletin into Spanish every week.
This bilingual outreach is used to invite the community to church events like ACTS retreats.
“We have a very active ACTS community,” Barajas said. Our Lady of Guadalupe partnered with St. Joseph parishioners to put Spanish-language ACTS retreats together. Now there are Spanish-language as well as English ACTS retreats for men and women.
The new communication is also used to bring people to the church with events like the Our Lady of Guadalupe Fall Fest in October. The Fall Fest averages 500 to 600 people.
Another event that brings the community to the church is the Marian Pilgrimage. It happens on the Saturday before the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The pilgrimage starts at St. Joseph Church, Port Arthur, and makes its way to Queen of Vietnam Church, where Matachines are performed at the Queen of Peace shrine.
“Matachines are folkloric dances meant to represent early praises to the Virgin Mary from the Mayan and Aztec cultures,” Barajas said.
After this the pilgrimage makes its way to Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.
The pilgrimage also features trucks and trailers decorated to represent the 13 miracles of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The pilgrimage is an event that the whole family participate in. “Children dress in typical Mexican attire and march with their families in the procession,” Barajas said.
Involving children has been a big priority for Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish. This started with a shortage of altar servers. Children making their First Communion were invited to become altar servers and to also join the children’s choir.
These new altar servers and the children’s choir are now featured at a monthly Children’s Mass. The first Children’s Mass drew a crowd of 500 to 600 people at a Mass time that usually drew 200 people. The children’s choir sings at local nursing homes.
The parish found ways to reach out to the children’s parents. A pastoral group of volunteers does follow up calls to families who have a child being baptized, making their first Communion, confirmation or are attending religious education classes.
These volunteers inform the parents about church activities and ministries that the families can get involved with.
“We want to make sure the families and the godparents come back,” Barajas said. The parish is working with Dr. Lorraine DeLuca, director of the diocesan office of Evangelization and Catechesis, to create an atmosphere of family involvement.
These parents are also involved in religious education. While the children attend religious education, the parents meet in the church hall with parish volunteers Ricardo and Monica Celis and go over the same curriculum the students are using.
“Parents discuss what the kids are learning,” said Tatiana Kelsey, parish director of Religious Education. This engages the entire family in religious education.

By | 2017-05-03T15:22:55+00:00 December 21st, 2016|English, ETC Online, This Just In|0 Comments
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