Local Hispanic community welcomed to ‘Mass and Meal’ sharing
College staff and city Hispanic community members share Mass and dinner in a congenial get-together that reinforces PC’s role in the community and the importance of education.
Members of the Providence College and Providence Hispanic communities came together recently to share an evening of faith and learning on campus.
“The Message, the Mass, and the Meal” united staff from the College’s School of Continuing Education (SCE) and members of local Hispanic parishes for Mass and dinner in a spirit of fellowship. The program was sponsored by the SCE, the Office of Institutional Diversity, the Office of Mission and Ministry, and Latin American Studies.
Rev. David T. Orique, O.P., assistant professor of history and coordinator of Latin American Studies, celebrated the Mass in Spanish and gave an interactive homily that included questions for the approximately 70 attendees. After Mass, the assembly shared dinner, where SCE graduates Mercedes Hernandez ’13SCE and Silvio Cuellar ’98SCE spoke about the importance of education in their lives and in the Hispanic community.
After moving to America from Argentina, Cuellar studied in the SCE from 1993 to 1998. In balancing work and raising a family, he graduated with a B.A. in liberal arts, studying music, art, journalism, and theology.
Today, Cuellar is the editor of El Católico de RI, Rhode Island’s only Spanish Catholic newspaper, and is the coordinator of Hispanic Ministry in the Diocese of Providence’s Office of Multicultural Ministry. He also is a church musician, playing the piano and classical guitar. He performed with Vanesa Zuleta ’16 (North Providence, R.I.) at the Mass.
Cuellar and Hernandez conveyed how their PC education has impacted their lives. Cuellar stressed PC’s relationship to the Hispanic population both as a community and as a resource.
Emphasizing the “great experience” he had at PC, Cuellar said, “It would be great for other people to benefit from an education like this as well.”
“Much of the Hispanic community in Providence is Catholic, and PC brings a Catholic atmosphere, so it is a natural match,” he said. “PC is an instrument our community can use to strive for better jobs and better lives.”
Hernandez, who earned a bachelor’s degree in theology, said her SCE education instilled confidence to pursue and carry out personal and career goals. An active member of her parish, St. Anthony’s in Providence, she intends to work toward a master’s degree.
“Knowing I have the support of PC, I can stand behind what I teach and how I mentor youths that I work with at my parish. PC gave me the opportunity to finish the goals I set when I began school, and the SCE made me proud of what I was able to accomplish,” said Hernandez.
The idea of “The Message, the Mass, and the Meal” began when Anne Nagle, assistant dean of the SCE, and Rev. Thomas J. Ertle, O.P. ’51 & ’82G, assistant chaplain, met with Rev. James Ruggieri and Deacon Eduardo Birubet of St. Patrick’s Parish in Providence. Their goal was to explore ways that PC could interact with the Hispanic community.
Cuellar thanked the SCE for the education and direction he has received and said he looks forward to strengthening the relationship between PC and the Latino community.
— Nick Tavares ’16
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