(American Press Archives)
Last Modified: Friday, October 11, 2013 6:41 PM
Some churches are catering to the growing Hispanic community in the Lake Area by offering Spanish-language services and outreach.
The Rev. D.B. Thompson, chaplain of the Hispanic Apostolate of the Diocese of Lake Charles, said that because of the growing number of Spanish-speaking Catholics, the diocese began offering a Spanish-language Mass in 1994.
“Since its beginning, there has been a growing number of Hispanics who attend Masses and other community events at St. Henry Parish or other Catholic parishes in the diocese,” Thompson said in an email. “This increase is no doubt due in large part to the employment opportunities available in our area.”
St. Henry Catholic Church offers Mass in Spanish at 12:30 p.m. each Sunday and at other times on feast days, including the annual Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration in December. Sacraments and spiritual counseling are also offered in Spanish as needed.
In addition to the Mass, Thompson said, St. Henry offers other events for Hispanic parishioners such as weekly faith-formation classes for adults and children, community pot-luck meals and an annual Lenten retreat, and it even sponsors a couple of soccer teams.
According to Thompson, the diocese is committed to offering opportunities to strengthen the encounter of Spanish-speaking Catholics with Christ and the church.
“Each person ought to be able to encounter God and to practice his faith wherever he may go,” Thompson said. “As Catholics, we are universal, the church that embraces people from the whole globe and throughout 2,000 years of faith. Therefore, although we have the same faith in every time and in every place, we minister to Hispanics in Spanish in order to be a more effective bridge to the encounter with Christ and the fullness of faith he entrusted to the Catholic church.”
Jose Perez-Sanchez, the Hispanic pastor at Trinity Baptist Church, agrees. The church started offering services in Spanish last January.
“There are a lot of Hispanics here in the community, and many of them speak limited English,” Perez-Sanchez said. “Our goal is to be a bridge between the two cultures — Hispanic and American.”
Trinity Baptist Church has Spanish service at 10:45 a.m. on Sundays and Bible study on Wednesday evenings. Both services not only have a message in Spanish but also have an English interpreter — allowing mixed couples to attend church together, Perez-Sanchez said.
Perez-Sanchez also agrees that the Hispanic community is growing. When Trinity Baptist Church started offering Spanish church in January, about 25 people attended, he said. Now the church has about 80 people every Sunday.
Trinity plans to start offering English and Spanish classes in January so speakers of each language can communicate better with one another.