Local churches break down language barrier

Moving to a foreign country is difficult, but going to church in your native language can make the transition a little easier, said the Rev. Jose Sáenz of St. Michael's Catholic Church.

The weekly Spanish Mass at his church helps Craig's Spanish-speaking community stay in touch with their traditions, he said.

"They want a place to worship, and they want to worship in their own language," Sáenz said.

Sáenz and the Rev. Jim Fox are fluent in Spanish and take turns leading Mass.

St. Michael's has been holding a Spanish Mass at 7:15 p.m. Saturday for more than five years, Sáenz said. On average, about 120 people attend the service.

"It fluctuates, but it's growing," Sáenz said.

The church also does weddings, funerals and baptisms in Spanish.

"We do all the sacraments," Sáenz said.

Most of the people at the Spanish Mass don't speak English and aren't comfortable at the English Mass, he said.

For some families, the children speak English, but the parents don't. Sáenz said the Spanish Mass gives families a chance to worship together.

St. Michael's also has a bilingual Mass the first Saturday of the month that features a potluck dinner.

"We try to get the English- and Spanish-speaking communities together to get to know each other," Sáenz said.

As a child growing up in El Paso, Texas, Sáenz had the option of attending English or Spanish Mass.

When he was young, Sáenz usually went to the English Mass, but as he got older, he started going to the Spanish Mass more often.

"I wanted to be more in touch with my heritage," Sáenz said.

Although Spanish Mass is common in places such as El Paso, Sáenz said the idea is spreading to other towns. The Denver Archdiocese wants all new priests to speak English and Spanish, Sáenz said.

Calvary Baptist Church also does a Spanish service.

The church on North Yampa does a Spanish service at 7 p.m. every Saturday and a Bible study at 7 p.m. every Wednesday.

Calvary has a full-time pastor on staff, Arturo Villa, who is fluent in Spanish.

Villa, who is originally from Chihuahua, Mexico, said the number of people at the Spanish service has been growing since he started a year ago, and he has faith it will continue to grow.

"I think the church is going to be full pretty soon," Villa said.

The services at Calvary help Spanish-speaking people, bec-ause sometimes, they don't know who to turn to for help when they come to America.

"They need to know that we are here to help and to serve," Villa said.

Villa also does Spanish church services in Steamboat Springs.

The Rev. Rod Compton said Calvary started the Spanish service a few years ago because the Spanish population in Craig was growing.

"We saw a great need for it here in our community," Compton said.

Calvary also has done Spanish baptisms and a few Spanish concerts.

Brandon Johansson can be reached at 824-7031 or bjohansson@craigdailypress.com

Commenting has been disabled for this item.