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 | Keishla Espinal

Building Bridges in the Community

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“Learning a new language can make life more challenging,” said Pamela Bobonis, during a speech at an American Citizenship Award Ceremony. “But we are working on facing those challenges. Every challenge is an opportunity to learn and grow, and the world is waiting to hear our voices in English.”

Bobonis, who is from Puerto Rico, had been attending English as a Second Language (ESL) classes at Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish in New Port Richey.

“I am grateful for everyone involved in this ministry,” said Bobonis. “These courses are opening doors and giving new opportunities to many of us. They are not only teaching us a language, but they are also building bridges and breaking down barriers.”

On May 21, 2024, at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church, in New Port Richey, over 100 people gathered for this year’s ESL and American Citizenship Award Ceremony which is a part of the parish’s New Beginnings Ministry.

New Beginnings. which started in 1998 to offer English classes and American Citizenship classes, is making an impact on many lives.

Lenny Accardo, volunteer director of the program, stated, “I love the program, I love the people. It is amazing to be here and able to help people. The joy it brings me is beyond belief because it touches your heart and soul.”

The classes run every Tuesday from October until May and ends with an Awards Ceremony to recognize the hard work the students have done throughout the year.

During this year’s ceremony, there was a procession of flags, an opening prayer, speeches from students and teachers, award recognitions, and food from various countries contributed by the students.

This year, three students were recognized for passing their citizenship exam: Luis Camejo, from Venezuela, Claudia Kerr, from Honduras and Kacem Mahammedi, from Algeria.

“I am so grateful for this ministry,” said Claudia Kerr. “Not only did it help me become a citizen, but I found such great and kind people who care.”

Other participants are from Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, the United States of America, Venezuela, and Vietnam.

Joseph Anthony, one of the volunteers who teaches English, added “I just want to say that this is such a great ministry for us as the teachers and volunteers. It's very gratifying to help students, try to assimilate, learn the language, learn our customs, learn our culture, and become American citizens.”

Father Sebastian Earthedath, pastor of Our Lady Queen of Peace, stated, “This is such a great ministry. If you do not know the language, you are all alone in your own world. This ministry is helping others to learn English so they can have proper communication.”

Father Earthedath, wants everyone to remember that “The joy of every person is proper communication, even with God. If you can communicate with God, you should know the language of God. The language of God is love. In the same way, our language is also love. We love one another, we encourage one another, and I wish this ministry a great success.”

If you are interested in learning more about this ministry, you can visit