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Fiesta an opportunity to share traditions

10-23-14-hispanic-maryCOLUMBIA—Anna Tovar of Johns Island saw her two children bring their heritage to life on a recent Saturday.

Her daughter Kimberly, 14, and son Ray, 12, both belong to “Danza de Holy Spirit,” a traditional Mexican dance group based at Holy Spirit Church on Johns Island and led by parishioners Guillermo and Maria Luisa Macias.

Accompanied only by the mesmerizing beat of one small bass drum and the rhythmic jingle of hand chimes, they joined in a series of intricate dances and then marched in a procession of nations and flags that kicked off the Diocese of Charleston’s 2014 Hispanic Fiesta. The event was organized by the Office of Hispanic Ministry.

10-23-14-hispanic-flagThe performance was emotional for Tovar and other parents who stood on the sidelines and watched.

“We’re actually bringing the traditions from Mexico to this nation, and seeing my own children involved in the kind of dances we saw performed as children back there is very emotional for me,” she said. “My daughter is also getting ready for confirmation, so to have her involved in this dance ministry at this time in her life is also very special.”

The dancers from Holy Spirit were part of a cross-cultural collage of dancers, musicians, and singers who lent their talents to a day that drew more than 1,000 people from 25 different nations.

10-23-14-hispanic-bishopAfter the procession, Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone celebrated Mass in the gymnasium at St. John Neumann School. He offered a moving homily that talked about the sanctity of family, which was the day’s theme, and reminded the crowd that they were part of a larger community of the faithful.

“You are here as people from various traditions, but you’re not just here as a Hispanic community,” he said. “We create a human family that includes everyone. We’re Catholics and we belong to a church that is worldwide … we don’t give up who we are individually, but we share our humanity with every human being. Sometimes, as in our own families, we do not agree with all the ways others live their lives, but we have to remember we are all children of the same God, and we must interact and treat each other with dignity.”

10-23-14-hispanicAfter Mass, participants shared a box lunch and watched a cultural program that included singers, dancers and musicians from Holy Cross and St. John of the Cross Church in Batesburg-Leesville.

“This celebration is a sign of unity and hope for the Church here in South Carolina,” said Gustavo Valdez, director of Hispanic ministry. “We were all united by a common denominator. The Christian family of God gathered to celebrate the Eucharist with our shepherd, Bishop Guglielmone. We all have different cultural backgrounds, but the same goal — to be part of the Catholic culture of life, love and unity among diversity.”

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