Archdiocese celebrates cultural diversity

SOUTH END—Archbishop Seán P. O’Malley celebrated a multicultural Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross June13, which was attended by over 700 people involved in the various ethnic apostolates in the Archdiocese of Boston. The theme “One Body in Christ,” recognized the many nationalities and cultures that join to comprise the Church in the archdiocese.

Associate director of the Office of Ethnic Apostolates, Sister Mary St. Katherine Corripio, SND de Namur, said it was fitting to hold the multicultural Mass on the Feast of Corpus Christi.

The body of Christ unites the people of God in our common beliefs and common faith, therefore; “We are celebrating our unity in Christ even in the diversity that exists in our various cultures,” she said. “The Mass focused on the unity of our faith through the Eucharist,” which the archbishop went on to speak about in his homily.

The planning that went into the Mass, served as an example of this unity and of the important contributions each culture makes to strengthen the Catholic faith, she continued. Sister Mary said that members of many of the apostolates, including Brazilians, Chinese, Vietnamese, Hispanic and Black Catholics met to organize the celebration.

Their input led to several special aspects in the Mass, beginning with an opening procession in which children carried in flags from the different countries represented in the assembly. The flags were displayed near the altar throughout the Mass.

At the presentation of gifts, couples from the five continents with representation at the Mass approached a five-foot portrait of Jesus and placed a cutout of His arms, legs and body onto the portrait to form a complete body. The cutouts symbolized that all the different ethnic communities contribute to the Church, making it whole, making it one body in Christ, Sister Mary explained.

There was then an explanation of the “gifts each continent brings to the Church,” such as the desire for freedom and a better life from people in the United States, the strong community bonds from the people of Africa and the sacrifices Asians make for their children and the elderly, she said.

The prayers of the faithful were said in a half a dozen languages, including American Sign Language (ASL), Sister Mary said. She was struck by silence during the signed prayer and said, “it was a very interesting way to pray in silence with them.

This was the first year the Deaf Apostolate participated in the multicultural Mass. Father Michael B. Medas, director of the Office of the Apostolate for the Deaf, welcomed the opportunity for the deaf to be a part of the Mass.

“The inclusion of the deaf was a sign that the archdiocese does not see deaf people as ‘impaired’— broken hearing people—but brothers and sisters who have much to share with the Church,” Father Medas continued. “A gift that the deaf community gives us in this archdiocese is a witness that we need not all be the same, communicate the same, look the same, experience life the same and we should be brave enough to embrace our differences.”

The Mass was followed by a reception, featuring bread typically eaten by the people of each of the different countries in attendance.

Sister Nancy Charlesworth, SSMM, director of the Office of Ethnic Apostolates, took great joy in the Mass especially during the current climate of change in the archdiocese.

“In light of the reconfiguration that the archdiocese is in, this kind of celebration has the potential to allow us to see the multi-faceted side of the Church in Boston, how outstanding is the depth of faith … that the immigrant Church brings to the Archdiocese of Boston” she said. “The Church needs that richness and to see itself expanded by that richness.”