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 | By Keishla Espinal

Hispanic Culture Celebrated at Diocesan Mass with Bishop Parkes

October 10, 2023 | More than 800 people joined Bishop Gregory Parkes for the annual Diocesan Hispanic Heritage Mass on October 7, 2023, at the Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle.

This year, the Mass was devoted to Our Lady of the Pillar, patroness of Spain and all Hispanic/Latino communities.  She is recognized as the first apparition of the Virgin Mary in history and the only one that happened while she was still alive. Her feast is celebrated on October 12 with great devotion in many Spanish-speaking nations with chants and flowers as a remembrance of the Blessed Mother. Her feast day is the same day that Christopher Columbus arrived on American soil and the first Mass in the Americas was celebrated.

Mass was celebrated for the first time in the history of the New World in La Isabela – a colony founded by Christopher Columbus near what is now the Dominican city of Puerto Plata – on January 6, 1494.

Father Alberto Bueno of St. Patrick Parish in Tampa delivered the homily. He is from Cuba, and he has visited Spain several times. During his first visit to Spain in 1989, he had the opportunity to preside at a Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar in Zaragoza for his third anniversary of priestly ordination.

“In God’s plan there are no coincidences or accidents. Our Lady of Pillar demonstrates that Mary cares for all her sons and daughters. In the history of the evangelization of the Americas, our Blessed Mother has appeared in many ways, including to the indigenous St. Juan Diego in Mexico in 1531. The Blessed Mother’s apparition showed the native people of this continent that God, Jesus Christ, loves them and all people as sons and daughters, brothers and sisters.    The Virgin Mary is present in all our nations in one way or another,” said Father Bueno.

Ana María Morillo, a parishioner from St. Joseph Parish in Tampa attended the Diocesan Hispanic Mass for the first time this year.

“The Mass was so beautiful,” said Morillo. “I wanted to attend this Mass because they were honoring Our Lady of the Pillar, and I am from Spain.”

The Mass was celebrated on the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, and prior to the Mass, participants prayed the Rosary. Also, prior to the start of Mass, 23 representatives processed into the church waving flags from all Latin American countries, as well as Spain and the United States. Some participants dressed in colorful traditional attire reflecting their heritage. The music was lively and reflected the Hispanic culture.

“This Mass is an opportunity for our diocesan community to come together during Hispanic Heritage Month to celebrate the Eucharist and our devotion to Mary with our very own Bishop Parkes,” said Carlos Flores, Director of Intercultural Ministries for the Diocese of St. Petersburg.

Flores oversees the planning committee for the Diocesan Hispanic Mass, which includes members of the Diocesan Hispanic Commission and other collaborators in the Hispanic Ministry. It was a day of celebration and prayer as the community gathered for this sacred occasion.  

Next year’s Mass will be celebrated on October 12, 2024. Starting with the rosary at 10:00 a.m., the procession of the flags at 10:30 a.m., followed by the Mass at 11:00 a.m.

“All should attend the Diocesan Hispanic Mass because it is a great way to meet other people and to honor Our Lady and Jesus in the form of community with all the Hispanics in our area together,” said Morillo.


To view photos from the event in our flickr album, click the arrows below.

Diocesan Hispanic Mass 2023