Students Practice Spanish Mass Responses Prior to Papal Visit

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Students Practice Spanish Mass Responses Prior to Papal Visit

In preparation for next week’s papal visit, students at The Catholic University of America practiced their Spanish-language skills during a special Mass held Tuesday at Caldwell Chapel. The Mass, which was mostly in Spanish, was intended to help students learn the Mass responses so they can be better prepared when Pope Francis celebrates the Canonization Mass of Blessed Junípero Serra in Spanish Sept. 23.

Father Eric de la Pena, associate chaplain for the University, was the celebrant for the Mass, which honored Our Lady of Sorrows.

“In the spirit of Blessed Junípero Serra, who embraced another culture out of love for Christ, I think this sensitizes us to the reality that we have neighbors who may not speak our language,” he said. “I think it’s more than just getting familiar with the prayers. The experience of meeting another culture widens your world and widens your vision of life. Our prayers become richer by involving other cultures.”

Father Eric de la Pena, associate chaplain, celebrates a Mass in Spanish Sept. 15.

Father Eric de la Pena, associate chaplain, celebrates a Mass in Spanish Sept. 15.

Those who attended the Mass also had the opportunity to venerate a first-class relic of Junípero Serra: a piece of his bone. Father de la Pena obtained the relic for his personal collection after writing to the Shrine of Blessed Junípero Serra in Carmel, Calif.

“When you look at a picture of the saint, you almost feel like they are three feet above the ground, but the relics give us a sense that they were flesh and bone just like us and give us a sense of hope,” Father de la Pena said. “As a sacramental of the Church, they remind us of everything good that God has promised to us, that even in our frailty as human beings we can aspire to something good as these holy men and women.”

Senior Maria Thurber, a theology and Spanish major from St. Petersburg Fla., is a member of the Spanish Club, which worked with Campus Ministry to organize the Mass. As a heritage Spanish speaker — her mother is from Ecuador — she said she’s excited that the Mass honoring Junípero Serra will be in Spanish.

“I feel very proud that the first Latin American pope is going to come and do a Mass in Spanish,” she said. “For students, there will be nothing better than going to the Mass, knowing what they’re saying so they feel more a part of it. The language barrier won’t exist, or at least it won’t be so harsh.”

This summer, Thurber was in Ecuador during Pope Francis’s visit to Latin America. During her time there, she attended a papal Mass and held a sign that said, “Pope Francis, I’ll C-U Sept. 23 at Catholic University.”

“To see him there, it just made us Latin Americans all so proud,” she said. “The Catholic faith is so important to us, so to have our pope speak Spanish is just unbelievable.”

Students will have another opportunity to attend a Spanish language Mass on Sept. 22. That Mass, which will honor Our Lady of Mercy, will begin at 5:10 p.m. in Caldwell Chapel. Those present will once again have the opportunity to venerate the relic of Blessed Junípero Serra.

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