Special to The CS&T

Quakertown – Joselito Gonzalez is a project scientist at Merck and Co. in West Point. “I am basically a chemist,” he explained. “Our group supports chemical laboratories around the world, especially project investigation in Latin America.”

Gonzalez, who was born in Puerto Rico, obtained his degree in chemistry at the Pontifical Catholic University in Ponce, Puerto Rico, and came to the United States with his family in 1999.

He is dedicated to helping his colleagues in the world of science. It is a challenging job that demands insight and cooperation. The same values apply to his role in the Spanish Mass Ministry at St. Isidore Parish in Quakertown.

He was instrumental in establishing a Spanish Mass at St. Isidore, which is now celebrated the first Sunday of every month at 5 p.m. in the Day Chapel.

Gonzalez, 43, worked for Merck in Puerto Rico. He calls his relocation to the U.S., “an interesting experience. There was culture shock but you have to find your way. The company was very good providing for us.”

The family lived for a short time in Norristown and belonged to St. Patrick Parish. “They made us feel very welcome,” said Gonzalez, whose wife Yolanda Torres is an English as a Second Language teacher’s aide in the Quakertown school district and works with the Mexican community as a translator. The Gonzalezes are parents of two boys, Josh, 14, and Ilan, 13.

When the family moved to Quakertown they looked for a parish that celebrated a Mass in Spanish. They were helped by Father John Meyers, now pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Bensalem. “He trained my children to be altar servers,” Gonzalez said. “He wanted to start a Spanish Mass.”

Then, four years ago, Msgr. Hugh J. Shields, vicar for Hispanic Catholics in the Archdiocese, got involved. “He entered our lives and we started to organize the Spanish Mass,” Gonzalez said.

Msgr. Shields, who requests help from priests for the Spanish Mass, celebrates the annual Mass every December for the celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe at St. Isidore.

Father Frederick Riegler, pastor of St. Isidore, says between 80 and 90 people attend the Spanish Mass in the chapel which holds 100.

“Joselito is a very special person,” Father Riegler said. “He has a knack for diplomacy. He brings the Hispanic community together. It’s a real challenge. He is very gentle, very kind.”

The recent concern over the swine flu outbreak, which started in Mexico, has given Gonzalez the chance to stand up for Hispanics within his community.

“Hispanic families are very responsible with their children. I think the portrayal of Hispanics (in the media) has not been good. As people get in touch, or know our culture better, our devotion to the Church, they will know we are a good people.”

As an example of that devotion, Gonzalez cites the Mexican community’s creation of a shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe in the St. Isidore Chapel.

Jim Gauger is a freelance writer and a member of St. Luke the Evangelist Parish, Glenside.