Father Jose LuÃƒs Hernandez maintains a busy schedule, but he’s not too busy to reach out to the Spanish-speaking population in the area.
As the full-time priest at St. Rose of Lima, the Catholic parish across the street from Cheney High School, Hernandez has the regular responsibilities of giving Masses and taking care of his congregation. To this responsibility, however, he has the added job of directing the Catholic Newman Center on campus.
The Newman Center lost its full-time director last year and Hernandez’s Bishop has asked him to step in as a temporary director. “I don’t know how long it will take, but in the meantime I’m in charge of the two places,” said Hernandez.
Sundays the noon Mass at St. Rose is unique; it is held in Spanish. Hernandez has been the priest of St. Rose for six months, and he is from Mexico.
Three or four months ago, members of the Cheney community approached him about holding a Mass in Spanish. “My community asked me if I would be willing to reach out for them and do something because, coming from Mexico, it is easy for me to speak Spanish,” said Hernandez.
As far as he knows, there have never been Spanish Masses in Cheney, but he has been pleased with the response so far.
“It’s been growing. Last Sunday almost half of the church was full. I didn’t count how many, but I’d never seen it that full before,” said Hernandez.
A large part of the attendees are students from EWU, however, the parish is seeing more families from the community attending both the English and Spanish services. The fact that the church has baptized seven to ten children in the last six months is a good indicator of the growth in families for a church of St. Rose’s size.
Previously, students and Cheney residents who wanted to hear Mass in Spanish had to travel to St. Joseph’s church in downtown Spokane.
Hernandez doesn’t believe that people come to the Spanish Mass because they have trouble with the English language, but because attending a service in one’s native tongue gives people an important tie to their culture.
“I know being from Mexico and being here for so many years, you always look for your mother language to pray in your church,” said Hernandez.
Hernandez leads English Masses at St. Rose Saturdays at 5 p.m. and on Sundays at 10 a.m., as well as a 9 p.m. Mass at the Newman Center.
As for the Spanish Mass, he is proud of the fact that it grew out of his parishioners desire to reach out to the Spanish-speaking community.
“This is the first time that we have Spanish Mass in Cheney. It came because of the local community, St. Rose’s community wants to reach out for those students and not only for the students because we have families in town who’s background is Spanish- This is the beginning for that particular community and we just hope that that will grow and become even stronger,” said Hernandez.