November 15, 2019

Archbishop highlights unity amid cultural diversity at St. Martin de Porres Mass

Musicians and a dancer of the Indy Peruvian Incan Cultural Association (IPICA) pose for a photo after providing entertainment at a reception on Nov. 3 in the St. Monica School cafeteria after a Mass celebrating the feast of St. Martin de Porres, who was born and raised in Peru. They are IPICA dancer Andrea Capunay, left, Jaime Torpoco of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, IPICA founder Patricia Meneses, David Sierra of Holy Spirit Parish in Indianapolis, and Angel Hurtado of St. Monica Parish. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

Musicians and a dancer of the Indy Peruvian Incan Cultural Association (IPICA) pose for a photo after providing entertainment at a reception on Nov. 3 in the St. Monica School cafeteria after a Mass celebrating the feast of St. Martin de Porres, who was born and raised in Peru. They are IPICA dancer Andrea Capunay, left, Jaime Torpoco of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, IPICA founder Patricia Meneses, David Sierra of Holy Spirit Parish in Indianapolis, and Angel Hurtado of St. Monica Parish. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

By Natalie Hoefer

As a person of mixed race, the cards were stacked against Dominican brother St. Martin de Porres (1579-1639). He was born to an African mother and a Peruvian father of Spanish descent in a time when those of mixed race were unaccepted by society.

But in part for charitably overcoming the challenges that his mixed African-Hispanic heritage caused, St. Martin de Porres is now the patron saint of mixed races, among other patronages.

In the archdiocese, Catholics of African and Hispanic ethnicity come together for a Mass each year to celebrate the saint’s Nov. 3 feast day. (See a photo gallery from the event)

On that date at St. Monica Church in Indianapolis, Archbishop Charles C. Thompson was the principal celebrant at the Mass sponsored by the archdiocesan Black Catholic Ministry and Hispanic Ministry.

“It is an archdiocesan Mass, and everyone is invited,” says Pearlette Springer, Black Catholic Ministry coordinator. “But the focus is on the relationship of blacks and Hispanics. That’s why the music and language [used during the Mass] come from those two traditions. … The traditions of Hispanic and Black Catholics transcend North America, Central America and Africa.”

In his homily, Archbishop Thompson focused on the Church’s cultural unity—a unity defined by the fact that all are sinners needing to be transformed by Christ, and by the dignity due each person despite the many ethnicities, cultures and languages in the Church. Here are excerpts from his homily:

“This celebration of cultural unity is rooted in the catholicity of the Church—the body of Christ, the people of God. The richness of ethnicities, cultures and languages is a great blessing in our Church.

“This richness is especially captured in the feast of Pentecost, when we recall the Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles to [enable them to] speak in a variety of languages so that they could be understood among various peoples in their proclamation of salvation in Jesus Christ.

“We must always respect the dignity of one another. In this world, we’ve lost a sense of dignity for ourselves, let alone the people we disagree with. St. Martin de Porres shows us the way of charity, the Christian way.

“Today’s Gospel story of Zacchaeus [Lk 19:1-10] is especially pertinent to our celebration. … Zacchaeus ate with Christ, … and Zacchaeus is repentant. Jesus wanted a transformation in Zacchaeus, and he got it.

“We meet Jesus in the Eucharist, and he wants to transform us. … But so often today people don’t want to repent … because we want to be self-righteous, not to be transformed.

“Here we gather to encounter once more in unity, as one people of God, the grace and sacraments of Jesus Christ. … Here we are transformed, both as individuals and as a community. Here we celebrate our unity amid our diversity as a community of believers.

“This is what it means to be Church, to be Christ-centered—rather than self-centered—in all things. Salvation comes to this house and all who dwell within it as members of the body of Christ.

“May we never tire of celebrating our dignity as people of God.”
 

(For a photo gallery from the Mass, go to bit.ly/deporres)

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