By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
CLINTON — Diners filled the tables set up for 160 people at the first Cinco de Mayo celebration in Prince of Peace Parish’s new hall on May 5. Hispanic/Latino and Anglo Catholics enjoyed enchiladas, tostadas, tacos and a special cake. The guitar player, Bart Garcia, made the cake, but didn’t take time to savor it. He strolled through the hall, strumming his guitar throughout dinner.
Cinco de Mayo (which means the fifth of May), commemorates the Mexican Army’s victory over the French Empire in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. The idea to celebrate this event surfaced during a March meeting of the pastoral council, said David Schnier, the parish’s business manager.
Two representatives from the Latino community serve on the pastoral council, Maria Ramirez and Patti Dondiego. When Ramirez gave a report to the pastoral council, Father Ken Kuntz, the parish’s pastor, “mentioned wouldn’t it be nice if we could celebrate some event with the Latino community,” Schnier recalled.
Ramirez and Dondigeo took the suggestion to heart and organized the meal with other Hispanic/Latino parishioners to be served on May 5 after the 5 p.m. Mass. Schnier said the parish has a budget for Latino ministry and that the cost of the meal could come from that. But Ramirez “was adamant. This was something they wanted to do for the parish,” Schnier said. “It was an expression of gratitude of being part of the parish and they wanted to provide something we could celebrate together.”
“We are very welcome as Hispanics and we were pleased to celebrate with the Anglos and to have the big amount of people we had,” Dondiego said at the end of the meal. “When we saw the line of people we thought, ‘We don’t know if we have enough food,’” Ramirez said. The food, prepared by many hands, did not run out.
“The food was absolutely great,” said Schnier, who enjoyed Cinco de Mayo with his large family. “Probably next year we’ll have to remove another divider wall and make more room. This was a very good event and response for a first time.”
A couple who attended the event sent an email that read: “The hospitality and the food were both superb. Thank you to the Latino community for their generosity.”
The Hispanic/Latino community is growing at Prince of Peace, Schnier said. The numbers are becoming more evident in the baptisms and first Communions celebrated at the parish. Celebrating the diversity in the parish is one way to make all feel welcome, he added.