Fuquay-Varina Church Hosts Spanish Mass
Posted September 7, 2001 12:36 p.m. EDT
FUQUAY-VARINA — When you come here from another country, it can be a big culture shock, especially if you do not speak English. Even though some things have the same meaning no matter what the language is - like religion and faith -- local churches are reaching out to the growing Spanish-speaking community by offering services they can understand.
Leonardo Galvan celebrates his faith by directing his church band.
"Always, I'm Catholic. All my life I have followed the Catholic religion," Galvan said.
When Galvan first came to Fuquay-Varina from Mexico six years ago everything was new, but he longed for something familiar.
"You don't want to forget your customs or traditions. And so you will be always looking for that one catholic church that has the Mass in Spanish," Galvan said.
The Saint Bernadette Catholic Church in Fuquay-Varina holds one Spanish Mass every Sunday.
Father Frank Eldridge visits St. Bernadette's weekly from a church in Apex to deliver the Spanish Mass.
"They have a faith that they brought with them, and now they have a place where they can celebrate that faith," Eldrige said.
Imagine going to a church service and not understanding a word anyone says.
"It would be a lot different to say your prayers in English if your native tongue is Spanish. Even if you speak English fluently, you go back to what you learned as a child," Eldrige said.
The interest in the Spanish Mass is growing. Every Sunday, volunteers pick up migrant workers at local farms and bring them to church. Cheryl Galvan leads a caravan that brings in 100 people.
"I get immense gratification. Basically that's it, I enjoy it very much, probably more than they do," Cheryl Galvan said.
And it is about more than just worship.
"It gives you an opportunity to unite with other people of your own culture," Leonardo Galvan said.
After Mass, there is a small flea market and a large meal prepared by members of other Catholic churches.
"We are enjoying it, all the workers, because at least we're working together, that's the beauty of it, the mission," a volunteer said.
"There are immigrants here and we're giving them a sense of welcome, you have a place to feel part of this community," Eldrige said.
"We are a people of tradition, we enjoy our tradition, and there's really no reason why we should have to let go of that tradition," Leonardo Galvan said.
St. Bernadette has had a Spanish Mass for 10 years. The services draw as many as 500 people on any given weekend.
Other area denominations are also offering services in Spanish.