During this time of uncertainty, and sometimes even hate, that some of our Hispanic brothers and sisters in Christ are feeling in this country, let us join in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.
This celebration begins Sept. 15 and ends Oct. 15. Bishop Richard J. Malone will help us celebrate a diocesan celebration which will take place at Holy Angels Church on Sept. 18, with a Mass at noon followed by a reception at Blue Lounge at D'Youville College in Buffalo. All are welcome to come and join in this celebration of love and mercy. Father Alex Roque, OMI, will be the homilist at the Mass.
This is a great opportunity to celebrate the faith and cultures of the 20 Hispanic countries that are represented throughout our parishes in the diocese. It is a great opportunity to learn about these cultures and their rich faith. It's important for the youth to learn about their families so that they can be proud of their rich heritage. It gives our parishes the opportunity to teach their parishioners of the faith, culture and values of the largest growing population in the Catholic Church here in the United States. Today 60 percent of all Catholic youth in the United States are Hispanic.
The theme for this year's national Hispanic Heritage Month celebration is "Honoring our Heritage, Building our Future." Take time to look around your neighborhood to see if your parish reflects your neighborhood. Are there more Hispanic or families of other cultures around? Have you extended a hand to invite them into your parish? The V Encuentro process is one way your parish can get involved in reaching out and learning about the needs of the Hispanics in your community. It will help in looking to new ways of evangelization.
The pastor or pastoral associates of your parish will be receiving a letter from Bishop Nelson Perez, auxiliary bishop of Rockville Centre, who oversees our region, and from myself, inviting them to put together a Parish V Encuentro Team. It is important that as many parishes as possible participate in the process, which will help with the future planning for the Hispanic Catholics in our diocese and in our country.
According to the July 2015 census, there are 56.6 million Hispanics in the United States which make up 17.6 percent of the population. As these numbers have risen, we have also noticed a growth of injustice toward those of Hispanics descent. Many families have had to endure separation or worry about being separated from their loved ones. As Christians, we must look at this issue with the lens of our Lord Jesus Christ. What would He do for these families today?
In faith formation classes or other parish gatherings, share the Hispanic culture and faith. Invite one of the parishes who have Hispanic Catholics to come to a parish that has no Hispanics and ask them to share their culture, traditions and music with your parish. Learn about Our Lady of Guadalupe or Our Lady of Providence. Visit one of the Hispanic parishes for a weekend Mass.