Sisters Adela Gross and Carol Virnig
While they may not exactly resemble a soap opera (or telenovela, the Latino equivalent), many of our days seem to move so quickly from one situation to the next that we are on the same emotional roller-coaster as in the TV dramas. We both agree that Hispanic ministry is never dull.
Any given day can include everything from helping fill out innumerable applications and forms to translating for the local mechanic to listening to the family in crisis because of immigration problems or domestic violence to helping make appointments with doctors, dentists, social workers, WIC, and more.
Pastoral ministry is the focus of our work, which means that we spend much time preparing for weekly Spanish liturgies, sacraments, religious education, visiting the sick and preparing for traditional celebrations, such as the Posadas before Christmas, Holy Week rituals, Quinceañeras (15th birthday celebrations), and Our Lady of Guadalupe. An important part of our ministry is working with the Anglo (non-Hispanic) community in our parishes to develop understanding and acceptance of the rituals and celebrations of the Hispanics. We are definitely "bridges" and sometimes get stepped on from both sides!
Often, the day that we have in mind never seems to go as planned. The unexpected and emergency calls ask for our response even when "the Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." The requests are never ending: "My husband was just stopped by the police and is in jail!" "My baby is sick. Can you call the clinic and make an appointment?" "Can you take me to the clinic?" Sometimes we feel like the Yellow Pages-just one big referral agency that has all the answers! "Where can I get good clothes at a garage sale or secondhand store?" "Can you find me a dentist (who doesn't charge much!)? A mechanic? A furnace repairman? A plumber?" And the list goes on.
Each day eventually comes to an end and, as we lie down and give thanks for the blessings of the day and all the opportunities to feel needed (or useless!), the phone rings one more time, "Madre, can we borrow some tables and chairs for a fiesta tomorrow?" Lord, give us a peaceful night and a new day to serve you! Gracias, Señor!
At a glanceMinistry: Hispanic Ministry