“Christo vino, Christo vendra, Cristo esta entre nosotros,” worshipers said in unison Sunday afternoon at St. John Catholic Church in Bangor.
Hearing the words of the Catholic Mass in her native Spanish made Victoria Dearing joyous.
“It’s fantastic,” she said after the first Mass celebrated in Spanish at the York Street church in more than seven years. “It is music to my ears. It feels like a little bit of home.”
Dearing, 48, said she’s lived in Greater Bangor for more than two decades.
More than 40 people attended Sunday’s Mass. Beginning next month, Mass will be celebrated in Spanish at 1 p.m. on the first and third Sundays of each month. They will be held at 11:30 a.m. at St. John the Baptist Church, 26 Monument St. in Winslow on the second and fourth Sundays. Spanish Masses are celebrated weekly in Portland and Lewiston and seasonally in Cherryfield.
Masses in Spanish were celebrated at St. John’s for a while in 2010, but travel to Bangor from Portland was difficult for the elderly priest who conducted them. The retirement of the Rev. Frank Morin this summer made it possible for him to begin celebrating Spanish Masses again in Bangor, according to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland that serves the entire state.
The diocese’s Hispanic outreach, which is most prominent in Portland and Lewiston, dates back to the late 1980s and early 1990s, when Morin began celebrating Mass for Mexican workers from the egg farms in Turner. The priest, who now lives in Winslow, spent five years at a mission in Bolivia. He also celebrated Masses in Spanish in Portland and Cherryfield, when he served parishes in those communities.
Morin said Sunday he has missed saying Mass in Spanish since retiring.
“We had 40 plus people here today and about 15 last week in Winslow,” he said. “That’s a good sign that it can grow.”
The Hispanic ministry was launched in 2005 with a grant from the Sisters of Mercy and funding from the diocese. Sister Patricia Pora, who returned to Maine in 2001 after years of missionary work in Peru, saw a need for the ministry in her work as interpreter in Portland’s home health nursing program in the mid-1990s and more recently in her work at Mercy Hospital in Portland. She continues to work with the ministry and attended Sunday’s Mass in Bangor.
Santiago Rave, 39, of Bangor brought his family, including daughters, Emilia, 6, and Silvia, 4, to the Spanish Mass.
“Having grown up in a bilingual home, I think it’s important to immerse them in the language as much as possible,” he said. “They attend All Saints Catholic School, so here they can hear in Spanish what they are learning in school in English.”
Both girls said that they understood just a little bit of the Mass in Spanish.
For information on the Office of Hispanic Ministry, please contact Sister Patricia Pora at 615-2522 or Rosario Starratt at 312-4716 or visit https://portlanddiocese.org/ministries/hispanic-ministry.