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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim '25 M.A., Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

First Spanish mass held on campus

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Bill Rickle, S.J., said the Mass in the smaller chapel within the Chapel of St. Joseph. PHOTOS: MITCHELL SHIELDS ’22/THE HAWK

Este artículo es disponible en español aquí.

The first Spanish Mass on campus was held in the Chapel of St. Joseph on Nov. 24.

The Mass, attended by approximately 25 people, was proposed by Juan Camilo Cheng ’20 and made possible through the help of Campus Ministry. Cheng said he felt it was important for young Spanish speakers on campus to have a place to connect with their faith and become more involved at St. Joe’s.

“People who speak Spanish as [their] first or second language should have a space to share their faith, especially if it involves the most important aspect of Catholicism, the real presence of Jesus and His sacrifice for us,” Cheng said in an email to The Hawk.

Cheng said there has been a Spanish speaking prayer group on campus the past three years, but he wanted to go beyond that. With the help of Jessica Kerber, ACJ, campus minister, Cheng proposed the idea of a Spanish Mass to Campus Ministry and reached out to the head of Spanish ministry at Villanova University for guidance.

Bill Rickle, S.J., campus minister of athletics and student life, who learned Spanish while studying theology in Mexico and Jesuit studies in Spain, was asked to preside over the Mass. Rickle said he and Cheng were both pleased with the outcome of the first Mass.

“When I was talking with Juan Cheng, I said, ‘How many people do we want to expect to have?’” Rickle said. “He said, ‘Well I’d be happy with 10 people because Villanova has 25 and they’re much bigger than we are.’ Well we had about 25 people here tonight.”

For Rickle, offering Mass in Spanish was an important opportunity to show that the Church speaks more than just one language.

“None of us have ownership,” Rickle said. “All of us are part of the community and this is one way of expressing that universality and that welcome.”

Cantors from the chapel choir sang songs in Spanish during the mass.

Paul Ammons ’20, a lector during the Mass, said religion is an important aspect of Latino culture, so offering Mass in Spanish gives him and other students a sense of belonging on campus and in the Catholic Church.

“For me, coming from a Latino/Latina community and having that part missing from my life, this gives me a sense of home on campus,” Ammons said.

Ammons said he hopes more Spanish Masses will be offered and more people will attend, whether they are part of the Latino community or not.

“I look forward to expanding the community who does come to this Mass, so seeing more people use this as an opportunity to get to know Latino/Latina culture on campus and this community,” Ammons said. “I think it’s a perfect way to make that contact.”

Cheng’s goal is to hold a Spanish Mass at 4 p.m. one Sunday a month so the Spanish speaking community at St. Joe’s can continue to grow in their faith.

“Going to Mass is more than just the religious activity for Sundays,” Cheng said. “In it we learn to forgive, become a better version of ourselves and strive for salvation. I believe the Spanish community, and whoever else would like to attend, should have the opportunity to deepen its faith.”

Mitchell Shields 22 contributed to this article.

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