•Click here to read more about the Hispanic families in the Elk River area.
by Joni Astrup
St. Andrew’s Catholic Church in Elk River is launching a Spanish Mass at 12:30 p.m. Sundays beginning Oct. 16.
There are 200 to 300 Hispanic families in the area, according to Patricia Rosales, a St. Andrew’s parishioner with strong ties to the community.
Rosales knows of about 12 families at St. Andrew’s who do not speak English at all. Their children help translate for them, she said.
“They are counting the days when they will be a part of everything,” she said.
The Rev. Mark Innocenti of St. Andrew’s can celebrate the Mass in Spanish, but does not consider himself fluent in the language. He has two retired priests as well as some young priests who speak Spanish who will also be involved in the ministry.
Innocenti said Bishop Donald Kettler had asked if St. Andrew’s would do an outreach to the Hispanic community in the area.
Deacon Fred St. Jean and Rosales reached out to the Hispanic community and invited them to a meeting to talk about it.
“There was enough interest and participation that we thought we’d start with a Mass in Spanish,” Innocenti said.
Rosales said St. Andrew’s has always been very supportive of the Hispanic community.
The new ministry is important not only to those who don’t speak English, but will help serve as a way to keep their culture alive, she said.
Innocenti gained some experience with a similar ministry while serving at St. Joseph’s in Waite Park, which is clustered with St. Michael’s in St. Cloud. He also has taken groups to Guatemala.
St. Andrew’s has a connection to an orphanage in Mexico as well, and groups have traveled there.
Innocenti said he hopes that the church’s new ministry takes root and helps people grow in their faith.
Rosales hopes the whole parish will come together and more people will get to know one another.
“If you learn about us and we learn about you, how beautiful is that?” she said.