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Hispanic Charismatic Congress brings community closer to God

By KATIE LEFEBVRE, Globe staff reporter
(Email Katie)

Hundreds gathered to hear about Christ, the true hope, at the Hispanic Charismatic Congress the weekend of July 27 and 28 at the Long Lines Recreational Center in Sioux City.

This was the 10th year for the congress, the only diocese-wide event for Hispanics, explained Ana Hidalgo, diocesan director of Hispanic ministry.

“This is the main thing that has sustained as a common sharing of the Hispanics from the diocese and neighboring dioceses,” she said. “Many people wait for it. This is one of the main things holding us together in worship and praise. The aim is that there will be more spiritualties brought into the diocese for Hispanics.”

Throughout the weekend, the close to 600 participants experienced Mass, reconciliation, adoration and speakers.

The theme, Christ the True Hope, focused on one of the theological virtues. Last year’s focus was faith and the plan for next year is to look at love and charity, said Hidalgo.

The congress began with Mass celebrated by Bishop Walker Nickless. Hidalgo commented it was “a blessing to have him there.” The bishop stayed after Mass to hear confessions.

During Mass, the bishop spoke in English and Father Brent Lingle, diocesan director of worship, translated for him. The bishop recognized the Feast of Sts. Anne and Joachim, parents of Mary and grandparents of Jesus.

“I welcome all of you from wherever you have come from,” said Bishop Nickless. “Thanks for welcoming a bishop who doesn’t speak very much Spanish, but who certainly loves all of you. I am so glad you are here and a part of our diocese.”

He encouraged the attendees to “continue to share your faith with others. You are filled with the Holy Spirit, and we need to see your witness. I will be praying for you the rest of the weekend that you have a wonderful opportunity to get closer to God.”

Passing on the faith

The homilist, Father Dario Betancourt of Colombia, South America, spoke about the gift of faith “in the sense that you pass on the faith.”

“I received my faith from my parents. Mary received her faith through her parents,” he said. “Mary passed on the faith to Jesus and Jesus passed his faith on to us. Faith is a gift from God, but you have to pass it on to your descendants.”

Father Betancourt also gave presentations during the congress.

“The theme of the congress is hope, but I prefer to speak about faith because I think hope is a consequence of faith,” said the priest. “Pope Paul VI said evangelization has to be in general and also in groups. Since the pope speaks about the importance of celebrating faith, it is important to have this congress.”

He wanted to stress the roots of the Catholic faith – why Catholics believe in saints, why there are statues in the churches, why there is the sacrament of reconciliation and other things people do not understand or do not know.

There was a special holy hour when Jesus was exposed in the monstrance, where Hidalgo said, “A lot of grace was poured out there.”

Father Paul Kelly, chaplain for the Hispanic Charismatic group, celebrated the closing Mass for the congress.

Getting to know Christ

Martha Paz, a parishioner at St. Rose of Lima in Denison, was part of the committee who worked at the congress. The importance of the congress, she said, was to share the Gospel.

She said the people are “hungry to hear about it. We can see the families being close to God.”

“I hope they learn to know Jesus and to be close to him,” said Paz.

Sioux City Cathedral parishioner, Humberto Perez, originally came from Guatemala and has been in the U.S. for about 20 years. He attended the Hispanic Congress for the first time six years ago and learned to trust in Christ. This year he helped plan the congress.

“Christ is alive,” he said. “We plan this for people who want to know a better life. When they come here, they will know Christ.”

Corey and Maria Buckholtz, parishioners at Christ the King in Sioux Center, decided to attend the congress to learn more about Jesus and the Catholic faith. They try to attend the congress every year.

Corey Buckholtz mentioned it was good to have the bishop celebrate Mass because “he is the teacher, the one who gives us the faith and the food that we need.”

“Even though he doesn’t speak Spanish, it is nice to see him here with the Hispanic community,” said Maria Buckholtz.

The plan for 2015 is to hold the congress the last weekend of July at Long Lines in Sioux City.

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