The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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June 30, 2000 Issue
Local News

Congress draws diocesan group

Immersion trip to the Dominican Republic includes San Juan Mass


By Tony Staley
Compass Editor

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 concelebrants.

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 medical problems.

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 Elias Piña.

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.



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