Green Bay parish marks 3 years of Hispanic ministry

By Sam Lucero | The Compass | February 6, 2014

Ss. Peter and Paul Parish celebrates anniversary Mass with Bishop Ricken

GREEN BAY — A crowd of about 500 people attended a Mass at Ss. Peter and Paul Church Feb. 2 to mark the feast of the Presentation of the Lord. The Mass also celebrated the third anniversary of the parish’s outreach ministry to Hispanics.

Bishop David Ricken raises a figure of the Christ child during a blessing at the conclusion of a Spanish Mass celebrated Feb. 2 at Ss. Peter and Paul Church in Green Bay. The Mass was held on the feast of the Presentation of the Lord and marked the third anniversary of the parish’s ministry to Hispanic Catholics. (Sam Lucero | The Compass)
Bishop David Ricken raises a figure of the Christ child during a blessing at the conclusion of a Spanish Mass celebrated Feb. 2 at Ss. Peter and Paul Church in Green Bay. The Mass was held on the feast of the Presentation of the Lord and marked the third anniversary of the parish’s ministry to Hispanic Catholics. (Sam Lucero | The Compass)

Bishop David Ricken joined Franciscan Fr. Tony Cirignani, pastor, and the Hispanic community for Mass and celebrated the entire liturgy, including his homily, in Spanish.

The celebration of the Presentation of the Lord, which traditionally takes place 40 days after Christmas, is also known as “Candlemas” or in Spanish, “El Dia de la Candelaria.” The blessing of candles is part of the celebration and recounts Simeon’s reference, in the Gospel of Luke, to the infant Jesus as the “light for revelation to the Gentiles.”

The Mass began with a special procession that included children carrying candles and a mariachi band, Estrella, providing music. In addition, a figure of the infant Jesus was carried into church with the procession.

Josefina Bustamante holds a figure of the infant Jesus. Many  families brought small figures of the Christ child (nino Dios) for a blessing, which by Bishop Ricken, which took place at the end of Mass.(Sam Lucero | The Compass)
Josefina Bustamante holds a figure of the infant Jesus. Many families brought small figures of the Christ child (nino Dios) for a blessing, which by Bishop Ricken, which took place at the end of Mass.(Sam Lucero | The Compass)

According to Carlos Hernanez, Hispanic ministry director for the Diocese of Green Bay, who attended the liturgy, owning an image of the Christ child – niño Dios – is an important custom in Mexico.

“At times a godparent is chosen for the niño Dios, who is then responsible for hosting various celebrations between Christmas and Candlemas,” said Hernandez. “First, on Christmas eve the niño Dios is placed in the Nativity scene, on Jan. 6, Kings Day (Los Reyes Mayos), the child is brought presents from the Magi, and on Feb. 2, the child is dressed in fine clothes and presented in the church.”

Many families brought dolls depicting the Christ child to Mass to be blessed.

In his homily, Bishop Ricken said it was an honor to join the Hispanic community for the traditional celebration. He thanked those in attendance for “participation in your faith, for teaching the faith to your children and helping your parish as volunteers.”

Bishop Ricken said the feast of the presentation commemorates the day Mary and Joseph presented the infant Jesus at the temple in accordance with the law of Moses. He said Mary continues to present Jesus to people of faith. He alluded to Mary’s influence on the church in Latin America, mentioning Our Lady of San Juan de Los Lagos and Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Just like Mary and Joseph, he said, “you and I are called to present Jesus today and every day of our lives.”

“This is the call of our baptism, of our first Communion, of our confirmation: To be with Jesus every day, walk with him every day and to (keep) him in our thoughts, our words and our actions today and every day of our life,” added Bishop Ricken.

Following Communion, children were invited into the sanctuary for a blessing of infant statues of Jesus by Bishop Ricken. Raising a figure of the infant Jesus overhead, he recited a prayer and blessed the gathering, making the sign of the cross with the figure.

Norma Chavez, pastoral minister and coordinator of Hispanic ministry at Ss. Peter and Paul Parish, said the Feb. 2 gathering marked three years of outreach to the Hispanic community. The first Mass was attended by about 25 people, she said.

“If you look around, you see Hispanic residents (in Green Bay) and there is a great faith and they are willing to come and participate,” she said.

A former member of St. Philip Parish in Green Bay, Chavez accepted her ministry position after Fr. Cirignani, who previously served at St. Philip, was appointed to Ss. Peter and Paul in 2010.

Chavez said that the need for Hispanic ministry in Green Bay is growing and this is evident by the Latino presence at St. Philip, St. Willebrord and Ss. Peter and Paul parishes.

“It’s not only one parish that can help the great amount of people that reside here in Green Bay. We can share (resources) and we have a lot in common and we’ve been very supportive of the rest of the parishes,” she said.

MORE PHOTOS: To view more photos from the Mass, go to our Flickr page.

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