By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer
Father Angelo J. Hernández, 50, at St. Aloysius Parish in Pottstown, Montgomery County, since 2006.
He was ordained a priest for the Philadelphia Archdiocese in 1993.
He has also served as parochial vicar at St. Veronica Parish in North Philadelphia, St. William Parish in Northeast Philadelphia and pastoral care to the Hispanic community of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Parish in Hilltown, Bucks County.
Q. What are the major ethnic groups at St. Aloysius Parish?
A. St. Aloysius has a significant number of parishioners from Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Ecuador and Peru.
Q. What are your chief responsibilities as parochial vicar at St. Aloysius?
A. My chief responsibility at St. Aloysius is to first pray and then seek to do the Lord’s will. My duty is to be a minister of Christ to His flock, to act, as best as I can, in the person of Christ Himself and to serve His people to the best of my ability. This can only be achieved through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Other responsibilities include leading the faithful of the parish by my example, teaching and preaching and making use of the saving actions of Christ in the sacraments in order to communicate His love.
Q. What do you consider to be the biggest blessing and privilege of ministering to a multicultural parish?
A. The biggest blessing and privilege of ministering at St. Aloysius is knowing that everyone feels that they are truly an integral part of the parish and knowing that the spiritual opportunities offered them, at the parish, have brought them to that unity.
The beauty of working with different ethnic groups is that we can learn from each other if we are open to it.
Q. What are among the major traditions that multicultural Catholics to whom you minister bring to the Church of Philadelphia?
A. One outstanding tradition is their deep devotion and honor to our Lady.
Each culture helps us better understand Mary’s role in our salvation – that we can get to Jesus through Mary. Outward manifestations include the May procession, the rosary and the celebration of the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec. 12.
Q. What do you cherish most about St. Aloysius Parish’s celebration of the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe?
A. The beautiful music – particularly, the mariachi band; the little children dressed in their native clothing presenting roses before the statue of the Blessed Mother and the reenactment of the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe to Juan Diego.
This liturgy is enriched by the blending of the cultures and the joy in people’s hearts afire with love of the Holy Spirit as they lift their prayer and praise to God and His Blessed Mother.
Q. How do you encourage the various ethnic groups of St. Aloysius to build up the Church?
A. To be active participants in the liturgy and life of the parish, all should continue to worship together and reach out in charity to one another.
I invite and encourage our St. Aloysius people to use their God-given gifts of time, talent and treasure to build a closer relationship with God and His people and so they may continue to enrich the parish.
I encourage them to build and nurture their prayer life and to take pride in and preserve the cultural traditions that they have brought from their native land.
Q. What is your favorite Scripture passage that conveys Christ’s love of the vast ethnic fabric that makes up the universal Church?
A. One of my favorite Scriptures is Mark 3:31-35. “Your mother and your brothers [and your sisters] are outside asking for you. … whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
God’s people should be accepting and shouldn’t exclude anyone. Jesus did not show partiality. He allowed everyone the privilege of obeying God and becoming part of His family. We need to grasp Jesus’ message that we have all been baptized into the same fold with the same Holy Spirit.
My other favorite Gospel passage is Matthew 13:47. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind.”
Q. What do you say to give hope to Catholics from other countries who feel marginalized in America’s secular society outside of church hours, as they go about their business at work or at school?
A. Be aware of the Lord’s presence during adversity. If you accept whatever suffering comes into your life, it will make you stronger and enable you to be an example to those who are causing you distress.
Don’t rely on just your strength. God is there with you, helping you. Rise above prejudice. This can only happen when we are close to the Lord. The source of strength is God.
Q. What are some of the creative ways you encourage the youth of the parish to learn about and practice their faith and about the importance of going to church on a regular basis? Are there any activities at St. Aloysius that are particularly popular among the youth?
A. The youths take an active role in school liturgies; every classroom assists with the planning. My homilies, in general, are interactive and geared toward them.
I involve the youths, with the help of others, to take an active role in Church ministry through activities such as the Christmas pageant and Christmas tree lighting, posadas and the May procession.
Youth in Action is an organization of the parish that is popular among the youth of St. Aloysius. It provides spiritual and charitable works in service to the Church and the Pottstown community.
The youths in our parish are made to feel that they are an integral part of the parish and that their opinions are valued.
We are looking into getting a youth minister.
CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at 215-587-2468 or firstname.lastname@example.org.