Oshkosh Latino Catholics hold run-walk
Event raises money for orphans, awareness about immigration issues
By Jaye Alderson
OSHKOSH -- Despite rain, the inaugural Virgin of Guadalupe's Run-Walk for a Better Tomorrow, held Oct. 14 beginning at St. Jude the Apostle Church, Sacred Heart location, was a success.
The event's purpose was to raise money and awareness in the Green Bay Diocese about immigration issues.
The five-mile event attracted more than 80 walkers and runners, and many others who attended the bilingual Mass before the run. A family gathering with food, music was held afterward.
Luis Rivera, director of Spanish ministry at St. Jude and an organizer of the event, said the funds raised would go toward a religious/cultural celebration on the feast of Our
Lady of Guadalupe, a traditional Mexican religious celebration in December, and to help support the daily needs of poor children cared for by the Missionaries of Charity, the religious order founded by Mother Teresa of Calcutta, working in Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
Rivera, a native of the Dominican Republic, said that while there were many goals for the event, the most important was to bring together members of the Latino and Anglo communities from around the diocese.
"My goal is not only to work with the Latino community," Rivera said. "This event also is an opportunity for Mexican children and American children to play together, adults to be talking together and be aware. I want to show both communities we are one church. We don't have Latino, American or Chinese. We are all Christian.
"We are trying to do something in the name of Christ, in the name of Our Lady of Guadalupe, in the name of Mary. We want a spiritual experience with Jesus and Mary. Anything else is secondary."
Rivera said many Latinos around the diocese feel cut off from the wider community because of language difficulties, the stress of working long hours and immigration issues. He said
there is a lot of fear, and many Latinos are not participating in area church services.
"My goal is to motivate the people to work for their own faith," he said.
He said that by getting people of both communities together to exercise, walk, talk and pray, he hopes for a better understanding between the communities and to start to find solutions to the problems of immigration.
"How can we better do our work?" he asked. "I think we should find more time to spend together. Latinos are human and they are Christian. I want the population in the Latino community to see that the Americans are helping them."
He said there is also a strong belief in the Latino community in the providence of God, and by sacrificing with a walk or run and by praying the rosary, intercession from Our Lady of Guadalupe could begin to solve their problems.
He said other opportunities for people of both communities to get together include mission trips to the orphanages in Latin America and observances of the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Rivera came to the Green Bay Diocese as a seminarian but has taken time off to decide where God is calling him to take his life.
"For now, I am here as a missionary to help our people," he said. "I was wanting to find a parish to help my people, and God gave me a calling."