Congress draws diocesan group
Immersion trip to the Dominican Republic includes San Juan Mass
By Tony Staley
SAN JUAN, Dominican Republic - Bp. Jose Grullon of San Juan
called on his priests and all people of the diocese to declare
that "God is our God and we are his people" at a Jubilee Year
diocesan Eucharistic Congress. Several people from the Green Bay
Diocese attended the Congress.
In response, the priests and then the people, first speaking for
themselves and then as representatives of the people of the San
Juan Diocese, loudly and jointly declared their belief in the
midst of the participatory homily.
The Eucharistic Congress Mass on June 22 - the feast of Corpus
Christi in the Dominican Republic - drew more than 3,000 people
to the square in front of St. John the Baptist Cathedral in San
Juan. Fr. Bill Hoffman, a priest of the Green Bay Diocese, is
rector of the Cathedral Parish and was among the numerous
Some participants walked the entire distance from their
communities - 36 miles for one group - to San Juan in the west
central part of the country. Others came in buses, cars,
motorcycles and riding in the back of pickups and flatbed trucks.
Most ended their journey by walking in procession the last mile
or two to the cathedral.
At the front of the square around the altar were pews that had
been removed from the cathedral for the celebration. Many
worshipers sat there under the shelter of a rainbow of umbrellas
while most of the congregation found shelter from the hot
Caribbean sun by standing or sitting under the large trees that
dot the square. Vendors scattered throughout the square sold ice
cream, chips, fresh oranges, inflatable toys, religious articles,
and, in the case of one young man, tubes of Super Glue.
During the Liturgy of the Word, at least one man worked his way
through the congregation advising people to stop eating if they
wished to receive Communion.
The Dominican Red Cross passed out water and was ready with
stretchers in case of heat exhaustion, but there were no apparent
At the start of his homily, Bp. Grullon invited the congregation
to join him in repeating the day's theme: Allegremonos. Jesus
esta vivo entre nosotros. Recibelo. ("Rejoice. Jesus is living
among us. Receive him.")
The group quickly and enthusiastically followed the example of
their charismatic bishop - waving their hands and shouting out
the theme. At times, the talk seemed more like a political rally
than a homily.
Bp. Grullon reminded the assembly that in the Gospel, when Jesus
sent his disciples to prepare the paschal dinner, he was telling
them to make room in their hearts for the coming of God within us
because "He is our God and we are his people."
At the presentation of the gifts, the offerings included not only
bread and wine, but also flowers, as a sign of God's beauty and
love; a candle, as a sign that Jesus is the light of the world;
and bread made in the bakery operated by St. Therese Parish in
The parish in Elias Piña is a mission of the Green Bay Diocese
and is staffed by Fr. Mike Seis, a priest of our diocese, who
also concelebrated at the Congress Mass. Throughout the week, a
group of 10 youth and adults from the Green Bay Diocese were on
an immersion experience in the parish.
The Green Bay group attended the Mass, as did Sr. Roselyn Marie
Nichols, a member of the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother,
Oshkosh, and a native of Fence in southern Florence County, who
is working in the San Juan Diocese. Also attending the Congress
Mass were Carolyn and Richard Johnson of Christ the King Parish,
Kansas City, Mo.
As part of a multi-year sailing trip around the world the
Johnsons are stopping in various countries meeting the people and helping where needed. In the Dominican Republic, they have been helping Sr. Nichols on a water project.
The Mass included traditional Dominican and African style music and an Our Father sung to the melody of the Simon and Garfunkel song, "The Sounds of Silence."
Children in their First Communion finery were among those who received the Eucharist.
After Mass, worshipers were invited to visit the cathedral for prayer to receive the Jubilee Year plenary indulgence.