Church service offers communion for native (and non-native) Spanish speakers

St. James Episcopal begins its second year of bilingual outreach

— That is exactly why the O’Neill families of North Syracuse regularly attend the bilingual service at St. James’ Episcopal Church.

“It feels like family when we are there,” said David O’Neill.

David, his twin brother Jim and their wives, Mary and Helen, were introduced to the communion service in Spanish as members of the Episcopal Church’s Mission of Miracles medical mission in El Salvador. The O’Neills, in fact, do not know much Spanish; and David and Helen are not Episcopalians.

“It just feels good to hear those words and sing those hymns again,” O’Neill said.

Area resident Martha Ruiz regularly attends and brings her daughter to the St. James bilingual service. Ruiz was born in Peru and is fluent in English and Spanish, and often serves as a translator during the service. Her daughter attends to share in the family heritage and be exposed to the rich Spanish Eucharist.

Despite the steady interest and attendance of the bilingual service — an average of 20 attendees per month — the church is looking to expand its program and outreach more, and hopes to encourage more people to attend.

“We are aware that there is a community here for this [but] no strong congregation of native Spanish speakers has developed yet,” Coerper said. “This outreach project hasn’t developed quite as we expected, but I do believe the Holy Spirit is moving profoundly here.”

Only two other churches in the Central New York area also offer bilingual mass: St. Anthony of Padua in Syracuse offers a Roman Catholic mass in Spanish every Sunday at 11 a.m., as does St. Francis deSales Church in Geneva at noon every Sunday.

St. James’ has been holding its bilingual Eucharist (communion services) for the past year at 8 p.m. on the second Sunday of every month, preceded by a free community dinner at 7:30 p.m.

“We have many Roman Catholics and Episcopalians who attend, but all are welcome for the dinner and the service, people of any faith tradition,” Stewart said.

The next bilingual service at St. James will be on Sunday, March 11. In April, because of the Easter holiday, the bilingual service will be the third Sunday, on April 15.

Jason Emerson is editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at editor@skaneatelespress.com.

Vote on this Story by clicking on the Icon


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment