By Emily Ceraul
As the Hispanic population continues to grow in our nation, it is refreshing to see communities welcoming and supporting this change. Nativity Parish in Scranton, for instance, is one such example. They have recognized the needs of their diverse congregation and have worked to respond to them.
The ESL program is one way they are working to serve the Hispanic population. Twice a week, over fifty students attend classes in order to improve their knowledge of the English language. While there are many elasticities that attend these classes, the overwhelming majority is of Hispanic origin.
I have had the opportunity to attend one of these classes with Sr. Donna Korba, IHM who is one of the ESL teachers. She has four native Spanish speakers in her class from Mexico and the Dominican Republic. The one thing they all have in common, aside from their language, is their willingness to learn English. They will ask numerous times throughout the class how something is pronounced to be sure they say it right and then proceed to practice over and over. They never hesitate to ask questions and are so appreciative of any information given to them.
While Nativity Parish works to help ESL students they also have a great deal of respect for their native language, Spanish. Every Sunday, they hold a Spanish mass in the afternoon. Everything from start to finish is spoken in Spanish. Though this mass is geared towards the Spanish speakers, all people are encouraged to attend. Missals are provided with Spanish on one side and English on the other. It is truly a unique experience if you have never attended a Spanish mass and the people of the parish are enormously welcoming.
Both of these programs have had a great impact on the Hispanic community. They are great ways of fostering an accepting and accommodating society. Hopefully the work of Nativity Parish will encourage others to embrace multiculturalism. If you are interested in attending the Spanish Mass, it is held each Sunday at 12:30pm. Please contact Sr. Donna Korba at [email protected] if you are interested in assisting with the ESL classes.