Bishop Welcomes Members of New Hispanic Ministry

By Fran Ruchalski

On Sunday, May 30, Bishop Felipe Estévez joined members of Communidad de San Marco de Holy Rosary for the Confirmation of six of their young members, with one also being baptized, and five receiving Communion for the first time.

Bishop Estévez addresses the members of Comunidad de San Marco de Holy Rosary for the first time during Mass at Holy Rosary Catholic Church. (photo by St. Augustine Catholic/Fran Ruchalski)

It has been about six months since the group began their weekly Sunday evening services at Holy Rosary Church on Norwood Avenue. Most of the members are from the area of San Marcos, Guatemala and were looking for a place in Jacksonville where they could practice their faith together.

Father Bernardine Eikhumelo, the pastor of Holy Rosary Parish, says that when it was brought before the parish council, they embraced the idea of having Hispanic services and welcomed the newcomers to the church.

Throughout its history, the parish has undergone some dramatic demographic shifts, so this is nothing new.

“Having so many young people eager to celebrate their Catholic faith is good for the future of the parish and the future of the Church. For me, that is something to thank God for,” he said.

Father Bernardine Eikhuemelo talks to the members of Communidad de San Marco de Holy Rosary during Mass at Holy Rosary Church. (photo by St. Augustine Catholic/Fran Ruchalski)

After the San Marco community first started using the church, the parish had a bilingual service to introduce the old and the new parishioners. In his six years of saying Mass, this was one of the most well-attended and enjoyable experiences he’s had.

The languages may be different, and the music may have a different flavor, but the faith is the same.

“It’s not very often you find young people who want to come to church at 7 PM on a Sunday night,” he continued. “Especially after working full, 7 day-a-week jobs, and still coming to church on a Sunday night. That is something to cherish and encourage.”

And it’s better to have people using the church when it was just vacant before at that time. Plus, they have choir practices and religious education classes at the church in the evenings now too.

Newly-confirmed Lizbet Ramirez Ovalle places a flower on the altar for the Virgin Mary along with other members of Communidad de San Marco de Holy Rosary. (photo by St. Augustine Catholic/Fran Ruchalski)

Father Bernardine says that about 20 families have already registered as members of the parish. And he expects more.

“We’ll see how it goes for the future, but my joy is that they are happy to be here at the end of the day.”

At the conclusion of Sunday night’s Mass, Father Bernardine laughed and promised the attendees that he would learn to speak to them in Spanish in the future.