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New bishop shows admiration for Hispanic culture at first parish Mass

Bishop Hying at St. MaryBishop Donald J. Hying reaches to greet young parishioners at St. Mary Church in East Chicago as Father Stephen Gibson and Father Jaime Perea look on during Bishop Hying's first celebration of Sunday Mass at a diocesan parish as bishop.

(Anthony D. Alonzo photo)


By Steve Euvino

Northwest Indiana Catholic


     EAST CHICAGO – Standing in the narthex of St. Mary Church, Cristina Martinez was holding a welcome sign for Bishop Donald J. Hying. Taken from Psalm 118:26, the sign in Spanish read: “Blessed is he whom comes in the name of the Lord.

     “I’m excited,” said Martinez, 14, a student at Bishop Noll Institute, “because he’s the bishop.”

     Five days after being installed as the fourth bishop of Gary, Bishop Hying celebrated his first parish Mass at St. Mary before an overflow crowd that included music from Mariachi Santa Maria, the parish’s mariachi band.

     Sarah Chavez and Tatiana Lopez, both Noll students, are members of the parish mariachi. “I was a little nervous,” Chavez said, recalling rehearsal on Friday. “It means a lot that we were able to do something as young people,” Lopez added.

     Celebrating Mass on the Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord, Bishop Hying blessed the water and then blessed the assembly. Although Father Stephen Gibson, St. Mary’s pastor, alternated comments between English and Spanish, Bishop Hying spoke only Spanish.

     After Father Gibson introduced some of the parish groups represented at Mass, Bishop Hying noted, “Many groups, but one people through our baptism. I’m very honored to be here for my first Mass.”

     Beginning his homily, the bishop said, “I can’t express completely my happiness at being with you. I’m in my house, because I’m with you.”

     Bishop Hying cited the dedication of Fathers Gibson and Jaime Perea, the associate pastor, recalling how Father Gibson met him on his first day in the diocese and requested the bishop celebrate Mass at St. Mary.

     Evoking some laughter by telling the assembly the only Spanish words he formerly knew were cerveza
(beer) and bano (bath or bathroom), Bishop Hying said, “I ask your patience with my Spanish and my experience as a bishop.”

     Although he served nearly four years as a missionary in the Dominican Republic, the bishop confessed, “I have forgotten a few words.”

     Having served in the Hispanic community, Bishop Hying said, “I have a great admiration for your culture and faith.”

     Just as Jesus’ baptism marked the beginning of his earthly ministry, the bishop said, our baptism marks the start of our salvation.

     “Today is a great feast day,” Bishop Hying said. “I can see in each of you the light of Jesus Christ. You are members of the Body of Christ.”

     Bishop Hying reminded the assembly of the importance of their testimony and practice of faith.

     “You may be the only Christ people see in their lives,” the bishop said. “As children of Christ, you have an eternal destiny. We offer glory to God for our baptism in Christ.”

     Following his homily, Bishop Hying renewed the baptismal vows of the congregation, as each person held a candle during the ceremony,

     A social with the bishop followed Mass in nearby Harrison Middle School.

     Mario Gonzalez, a parish catechist who led children into church for Mass, said Bishop Hying’s presence was “big, because we have a large community and we’re lacking a lot of things. This is a good step, showing the bishop is with us. This can help make our community a little bit better.”

     Rosa Macias, a volunteer in the parish’s immigration center, cited Bishop Hying’s background in Wisconsin and the Dominican Republic. She called the bishop’s presence at St. Mary a “very beautiful sign of love and fellowship.”

     Gorka Martinez, among those photographing the Mass, said many people are suffering, adding it was important for the bishop “to say a word of hope and love, to show the Church loves poor people.”    


Bishop Hying at St. Mary

Bishop Donald J. Hying blesses the faithful at St. Mary Church in East Chicago on Jan. 11 during his  first celebration of Sunday Mass at a diocesan parish as bishop. (Anthony D. Alonzo photo)

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