Rhode Island

Bishop Henning offers moving message at Spanish welcome Mass

By Silvio Cuellar, Editor of El Catolico de Rhode Island

PROVIDENCE – In the words of the famous Mexican singer Ana Gabriel, “I have no money or anything, the only thing I have is love to give.” Those words were spoken by the new Bishop Richard G. Henning, Coadjutor of the Diocese of Providence, in preached to more than 1,000 believers and won the hearts of the Hispanics who attended his welcoming Mass in Spanish.
The Mass, held Friday January 27 in the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul, was the wish of the bishop himself and was an event with massive participation from all parishes with Hispanic communities in the diocese, as well as apostolic movements and Marian devotional groups.

Click here to see photos from this fair!
Bishop Henning told in his sermon how he learned Spanish from a young immigrant.
“When I was a newly ordained priestess, I met a young lady named Teresita Peña, an immigrant who had come to New York from a small town in the mountains of El Salvador during the civil war. She came from a large family with elderly parents and came alone to work as a maid in the rich house to support her parents and family in very difficult circumstances during the Civil War.”
The bishop said she was a cheerful, intelligent woman who sacrificed her dreams to help her family and community. He shared how she not only taught him Spanish, but also learned by example, living her faith and being close to the Hispanic immigrants at the center of their community life.
“When someone was sick, she cooked for them, when someone had to go to court, she accompanied them, and when someone received sad news of a death in their country, she organized the novena,” said the bishop. “She never thought of herself. She has always served others. And she always sang – she loved to sing and she sang a lot.”
The bishop related that many years later, when she was already ill and near death, he visited her and she asked him to sing before saying the prayer and receiving the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. Beside her were the images of Saint Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower, and Saint Teresa of Calcutta.
“She was very small but with a huge heart,” he said. “This woman, who never had a family of her own, raised a family in the Church and participated in building the kingdom of God.”
“On this day, as I begin, I would like to call three little Teresas: Theresa of Lisieux, Theresa of Calcutta, and Theresa of Port Washington, who was very small but was a giant in faith. She was my friend.”
Bishop Henning moved those present with his Spanish and knowledge of the culture while spreading a message of faith, love and hope.
“I came here as a spiritual immigrant, having crossed the sea on a ship to come from Long Island, and I am excited to walk with you on your journey of faith, but I have to admit; that I have no money or anything, the only thing I have is love to give.”
He closed to joyful applause from those present.
The people were very happy and full of hope for the bishop’s message. Many told Rhode Island Catholic that his words touched their hearts and they identified with his friend Teresita’s story.
The fair was an inspired event of unity for Rhode Island.
After the Mass there was an hour of cultural performances and folkloric dances accompanied by ethnic appetizers from different countries of Central, South America and the Caribbean.
Bishop Henning was present to enjoy the dances, talk to the participants, take photos and give blessings.
This event was organized by the Ministry of Culture and the Diocesan Advisory Council for Hispanic Ministry.

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