By Lois Rogers | Correspondent
Hopes were high that between 200 and 400 faithful from Keyport’s St. Joseph and Jesus the Lord parishes would turn out to celebrate their upcoming merger with a multicultural Mass and potluck picnic Sept. 10.
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But the result exceeded all expectations as a standing room crowd – estimated at 500 – filled St. Joseph Church for the Mass. There, they shared a liturgy which moved seamlessly in English and Spanish in recognition of the cultures of the community that will formally unite next July 1. The potluck picnic that followed embodied that multicultural theme as well with an international buffet that tempted all palates.
In a homily delivered both in Spanish and English, Father Rene Pulgarin, pastor of St. Joseph Parish, who will lead the united parish, urged everyone to look to the day’s second reading from Romans that the “only thing you should owe anyone is love for one another, for to love the other person is to fulfill the law. … Love can cause no harm to your neighbor, and so, love is the fulfillment of the Law.”
Love for one another, he said, will make the journey easier, not only as “we walk together and become one” but also serve as one of 18 centers for Hispanic ministry throughout the diocese. A total of 22 centers for ministry were chosen as part of the Faith in Our Future initiative to help meet the needs of increasingly diverse populations including Portuguese and Haitian communities.
The day’s celebrations, he said, are just the beginning of a process of walking “together to meet Christ.” He asked everyone to “welcome the opportunity with an open heart” focusing on the love of Christ that unites use all. “Remember, owe nothing to anyone except love. Love one another,” Father Pulgarin urged. He asked that the members of the two parishes come to know each other not as neighbors in faith but “brothers and sisters.”
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