Cuban Community Gathers in Honor of Our Lady of Charity
More than 400 people came together to celebrate the annual Mass honoring Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, at St. Lawrence Parish in Tampa on September 8, 2021. Monsignor Michael Carruthers presided over the Mass, accompanied by Father Alberto Bueno, Father Dayan Machado, Father Higinio Rosolen, I.V.E. and Father Ramón Hernández, who preached the homily. Deacon Carlos Celaya assisted Monsignor Carruthers in the celebration of Mass.
The celebration of this Mass in honor of the patron saint of Cuba commemorated 59 years of devotion to Our Lady of Charity in the city of Tampa. It was in 1962 when Father Ruskin Piedra celebrated for the first time the feast of La Caridad at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Ybor City.
Monsignor Carruthers shared at the beginning of the Mass how "we have received from Mary her son, Jesus, who gives us salvation and true and authentic freedom from sin." Monsignor Carruthers added that "Mary is the mother of all the Cuban people and the mother of all of us."
Father Hernandez referred in his homily to Mary's words at the wedding in Cana when she told the servers, "Do whatever he tells you." Cuba's history is painful. In the present time pain is also felt everywhere. But Hernández said, "We cannot wait for things to get better before we seek Jesus. We must live the totality of the present. Here and now, we must encounter Jesus. There is no point in us going out into the streets to protest if we do not experience a conversion in our hearts. The changes we pray for do not depend on the environment around us but on each one of us. You must ask with your heart. As Pope Francis told us, we will emerge better or worse from the pandemic; we will come out better if we act in solidarity, but we will come out worse if we act selfishly."
Father Hernández spoke of the total freedom that we received from God when he created us. Father Hernández also shared how, since the time he entered the seminary in Cuba, he learned about the devotion of the "Christ inside the drawer", the crucifix that the faithful take out of the drawer when they need God and return it to the drawer when they no longer need him. Father Hernández said he has seen that devotion in Cuba and here in the United States.
"Here and now we have to take Christ out of the drawer to encounter him. Instead of waiting for things to improve in the future. We must do it now!"
History of the Mass of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre
Father José González, who went to dwell with the Lord recently on August 23, 2021, was a strong supporter of this Mass. He coordinated the liturgy and invited the choir to the different parishes that hosted this celebration. Deacon Juan Sierra led the Organizing Committee of the Mass until his death in 2008. Since then, his wife María del Carmen Sierra and Father Ramón Hernández have overseen the Organizing Committee that plans the Mass, which has been celebrated every September 8 in several places such as Curtis Hixon Park and Incarnation Parish. Since 2011, the Mass has been celebrated at St. Lawrence Parish.