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Fiestas Patronales continues to preserve The Sacred Heart Chapel

By Ingrid Marie Rivera, La Prensa Correspondent

LORAIN: The Sacred Heart Chapel, founded in 1952, served as the religious and social foundation for both the early Mexicans and Puerto Ricans, arriving or living in Lorain. It served as a place where they could convene and practice their faith in their own language.

Rev. William Thaden said its annual festival, Fiestas Patronales, serving as the chapel’s main fundraiser, continues to help la iglesia serve those purposes today.

Two members of the Sacred Heart Chapel’s adult liturgical dance group bring the wine for the Eucharist.

“This helps us continue our ministry and grow,” Thaden said “As important as that is, it’s less important than the spirit that’s built here. It gives us an opportunity to celebrate the joy of our faith outside the temple,” he said.

Plenty of joyous singing and dancing took place this past weekend at the July 10-12, 2009 festival.

Friday’s Talent Show
During the 15 acts of the Talent Show on Friday, some singers braved a cappella, some musicians pulled out their acoustic guitars and drums, a duo performed to an original reggaeton piece and some dancers entertained with “break-dancing” moves to an audience of roughly 300 people. The Sacred Heart Chapel's liturgical dancing adult and children's groups performed various praise dances including to Mary Mary’s “Shackles.”

But only five acts were chosen as winners and each category received a prize of $100.

Charlie Sánchez, in charge of the Talent Show, said it was the closest contest he had seen in his six years running the show. The talent show, he added, is roughly 12-years old, and the festival is roughly 40-years old.

The winners included Selena Espitia, of the adult singing contest; Brandon Pulliam, of the dancing contest; Alfredo Alicea and Santiago Ocasio, of the 12-to-16 years old singing contest; Aaron Andujar and Elliott Andujar, of the instrumental contest; and Angelina Carrion, of the 8 to 11 years old singing contest.

Carrion, 11, who sang Jewel’s “You were meant for me,” said she’s been singing since she was 3-years old.

“I'm kind of amazed,” Carrion said “I didn't think I would win three times in a row,” she said “When you’re up there your hands get all sweaty but just looking at the crowd makes you feel better,” she said.

Although brief rain-showers caused Saturday’s parade to be cancelled, the evening dried up and allowed the entertainment to continue as planned.

Angelina Carrion, 11, winner of the Talent Show’s 8 to 11 year old singers category.

Musical appearances throughout the weekend included: the Raices Latina Folkloric Dancers, Sammy DeLeón Y Su Orchestra, Grupo La Marka, and Grupo K-ñon.

Sunday’s Outdoor Mass
Sunday’s noon, outdoor mass—the festival's prime event—ran smoothly, as roughly 350 attendees sitting underneath the main gazebo and nearby picnic tables were welcomed by sunny and warm temperatures. Rev. Thaden spoke on the need for generosity, living a simple life unattached to material possessions, and the importance of having one's actions parallel one's words.

“Our words become authority because of our actions,” Thaden said.

After several worship songs and prayers, the majority of the congregation lined up in five lines extending from the main gazebo to participate in the Eucharist.

The festival featured domino and volleyball tournaments, children’s inflatable play areas, and a rock-climbing wall.

Jannette Aquiño went to the festival with her three daughters and said she goes every year.

William Thaden leads in preparing for the Eucharist

“I go to church here sometimes,” Aquiño said “But I come here every year to support the church,” she said.

Others said they have been active members of the church for many decades.

Pedro J. Velázquez and Luis Salva, a member of 20 years and member of 42 years respectively, arrived Sunday to the church grounds at 4 a.m. They worked on roasting two full pigs, more commonly called “lechón asado a la varita,” that would be cooked until roughly 2 p.m. and sold for the pound.

Charlie Sánchez has been a member of the chapel for over 30 years, participating in the church’s choir and liturgical dance group.

“It’s a generous church, known from all over,” Sánchez said. “Father Bill has been with us for 6 years and he’s a great leader. He’s trying to have us reach out more into the community,” he said.

Time for Transition
When several Catholic churches of Lorain were ordered by the Cleveland Catholic Diocese to either close or merge with other Catholic churches earlier this year to meet the changing trends of the population, available clergy and finances, the Sacred Heart Chapel was one of the few Catholic churches in Lorain that was ordered to remain open and remain unchanged.


Participants of a domino tournament.

Mary Santiago, a member of roughly 50 years, called it “a blessing.”

Thaden said he’s grateful the Catholic Diocese was able to see the need for Lorain’s chapel to remain open.

“We needed to stay open because there is a need for a Hispanic parish (here),” said Thaden, adding roughly 98 percent of the members are Latinos.

“We’re also very conscious of the pain others are going through and we realize we could have been that. It's a transition time. But they saw the need for this to continue and we’re grateful for that,” Thaden said.

Sacred Heart Chapel Choir sing and play their instruments during Sunday’s outdoor mass.


Felipe Valadez, Maria Guadalupe and other members of Sacred Heart Chapel prepare flautas and gorditas at the festival’s Mexican food booth.

Pedro J. Velazquez, member of Sacred Heart Chapel, maintains the two 140 pound pigs clear of fire debris while they roast Sunday morning.





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