Latino Immigrants Embrace New Mission Format
By Kristine Stremel
Fr. Patrick Keyes and Fr. Tuan Pham presented a new form of parish mission at Sts. Cyril and Methodius Parish in Northeast Minneapolis this month that promises to help Latino immigrants retain their Catholic identity. Sts. Cyril and Methodius Parish was established in 1890 to serve the Slavic community of Eastern European immigrants who worked in the local slaughterhouses, factories and breweries. “There are 10 churches in a twosquare- mile area that served the Polish, Ukrainian, German, and Czech communities, among others. Sts. Cyril and Methodius remains a Slavic National Parish even though services in Slavic have not been held for nearly 30 years,” Fr. Patrick explained. “In fact, only about 30 people attend the two English weekend Masses. The current pastor and most of the more than 1,000 people who attend the Spanish services immigrated from Ecuador.”
More than a year ago, the pastor contacted the local Redemptorist community to request a parish mission. “He was open to our proposal for a new form of mission: visiting in homes and organizing small faith communities in different sectors of the parish,” Fr. Patrick said. Parish leadership explained that not only are most parishioners Ecuadorian, but nearly all are from the city of Cuenca, and very familiar with the Redemptorists and their ministry there and in different parts of Ecuador.
“We hoped to organize week-long missions in different homes, but were told that very few families would be willing or able to commit to hosting for a full week, and it would be impossible to host a neighborhood meeting because parishioners are spread throughout the metropolitan area,” Fr. Patrick said. “We decided to meet in homes for one night, have a short Scripture reflection and faith sharing, and finish with a blessing of the home. Nearly 20 people agreed to host us for one evening.”
Fr. Patrick and Fr. Tuan preached at Sts. Cyril and Methodius Church on the four Sundays leading up to the mission, and spent the next three weeks visiting individual homes. “We reflected on Mark 1, 12-15 and John’s call to conversion,” Fr. Patrick said. “Everyone was an immigrant, so they discussed how they have adapted to life in this country. Then we talked about how we have to adapt to follow Jesus.” After participants offered prayers of petition or thanksgiving in a prayer circle, the home was blessed.
“We were able to learn more about the people, their culture and customs because most people invited relatives and friends,” Fr. Patrick said. “During the fourth week, we preached a mission in the church using the conversion mission format.”
Parishioners embraced the new mission format and are eager to continue gathering in their homes. “They told us that they spend a great deal of time with their family and friends, but rarely share their faith or read Scripture,” Fr. Patrick said. “They hope that sharing their faith with their children will help them retain their Catholic identity as their families adapt to the culture in this country. We hope to continue to work in this parish, building on the foundation and relationships that we have established.”