Church Aims to Integrate Cultures in Celebration

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Image of the Virgin of Guadalupe

Hispanics make up one-third of the congregation at Blessed Sacrament Church. The feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe (pictured above) is a revered holiday for Mexican Catholics. Dean Fitzgerald hide caption

itoggle caption Dean Fitzgerald
Worshippers at mas. i

The Blessed Sacrament Church in Harrisonburg, Va. held a bilingual mass Wednesday to celebrate the feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe. One of the goals of the event was to integrate the church's English- and Spanish-speaking communities. Dean Fitzgerald hide caption

itoggle caption Dean Fitzgerald
Worshippers at mas.

The Blessed Sacrament Church in Harrisonburg, Va. held a bilingual mass Wednesday to celebrate the feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe. One of the goals of the event was to integrate the church's English- and Spanish-speaking communities.

Dean Fitzgerald

The Blessed Sacrament Church in Harrisonburg, Va. recently hosted the feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe — a vibrant celebration of Catholic tradition and Mexican culture. Hispanics make up one-third of the church's congregation. When Father Tom Mattingly became the pastor here in 2005, the English- and Spanish-speaking communities at the church rarely mixed. Mattingly has set out to integrate the two communities.

This year's celebration was marked with a bilingual mass — the choir sang a number of Spanish songs of devotion, but ended the evening with a song that had both Spanish and English lyrics. After the service, parishioners walked down an aisle under a series of floral arches and proceeded to the church's multi-purpose room for homemade tamales and Mexican hot chocolate.

Mattingly says he noticed a small increase in the number of non-Spanish-speakers who showed up for the event this year.

"I was very happy with the families that did come," Mattingly says. "They felt it was important to be here. And I noticed that most of them tended to be younger, with kids. So I think that's a great sign as well."

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