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Multicultural Mass and Festival returning for second year

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SAN DIEGO — “I felt like I was in heaven.” Narciso Guzmán will never forget how he felt gazing across pew after pew of Catholics from many lands worshipping together, one radiant row after another. That was the inaugural Multicultural Mass and Festival held last year at Good Shepherd Parish. The second edition is coming up on June 8 and it will definitely be bigger — it’s moving to a larger venue — but its spirit remains the same: to create a space “for all of us to experience Jesus in our lives at Pentecost.” The event will be held at Cathedral Catholic High School, where organizers are preparing to welcome upwards of 2,000 faithful. Bishop Robert W. McElroy will celebrate the multilingual Mass at 11 a.m., assisted by Auxiliary Bishop John P. Dolan and more than two dozen priests, many themselves immigrants. Afterward, a festival on the school grounds will be a feast for the senses. The 20 or so participating cultural communities will share their faith history from colorful booths — and give away samples of their native cuisine. Meanwhile, live music and cultural dances will be presented at the school’s amphitheater. The event celebrates the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the beginning of the Church’s mission to spread God’s love around the world. Each cultural community’s unique expression of that love will be on radiant display at the event. So many people turned out for the inaugural one last year at Good Shepherd, which has a capacity of 1,600, that some had to be turned away. That prompted the organizers, the diocese’s Office for Ethnic and Intercultural Communities, to move it to the high school. Guzmán, from the Hispanic Commission for the Spanish-Speaking, is one of the logistical coordinators for this year’s event. He said the inaugural one was unforgettable. “It was so beautiful to see all the cultures praying together.”

The planning for the event is led by Father Michael Pham, who directs the office, and the events’ manager, Charlotte Fajardo. Cultural Catholic communities long associated with the diocese will again participate, as well as emerging ones. They include African, African-American, Chamorro, Chinese, Filipino, German Hispanic, Indian, Indonesian, Italian, Korean, Laotian, Native American, Samoan, Tongan and Vietnamese. Their members will be wearing traditional attire, as everyone attending is invited to do. The event will begin with a call to worship at 9:30 a.m., where various cultures will take turns sharing their traditional music. At 11 a.m., representatives of each cultural community will process into the gym for the Mass one by one, hoisting a banner. That is followed by traditional gathering rites from various cultures. The Mass will feature music, song and dance from various communities, and a representative of each will participate in the Prayers of the Faithful in his or her native tongue. “This is a beautiful opportunity for us to experience when all cultures and all languages come together to celebrate the love of Jesus,” Father Michael told the cultural leaders during one planning session. All cultures, indeed the whole of the Church, are concerned that fewer and fewer young people are interested in living their faith. That’s why every community is making a special effort to invite their young members to attend and to experience the breadth of the universal Church. “It’s so important to involve our young people,” said Chieu Pham, the chairman of the Vietnamese Catholic Commission. “They are part of our community and our future.” Father Michael extols the power and promise of experiencing so many cultures coming together to share their faith. “It begins with us gathering in this celebration, for all of us to experience Jesus in our lives at Pentecost. What happened over 2,000 years ago will continue to happen today if we’re open to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us.”

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