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Arlene Garcia of Holy Name Parish in Omaha holds her brother, Angel, at the July 29 opening Mass for archdiocesan-sponsored Hispanic Congresses designed for youth and adults.

Hispanic Congress draws 900 youths, adults

Archbishop Lucas presides at two Masses

It’s a good thing there were two gyms. Both were busy as about 300 youths and 600 adults gathered for music, prayer, skits and talks July 29-30 at Hispanic congresses at V.J. and Angela Skutt Catholic High School in Omaha.

"Only God knows about the hearts of the people. But we can see their faces, and their faces were very happy and pleased," said Deacon Gregorio Elizalde, manager of the archdiocese’s Latino Ministry Office, which sponsored the gatherings.

The two congresses drew about 100 more people than last year’s inaugural congress, which was so large it inspired Deacon Elizalde and others to split this year’s gathering into two groups – youths and adults – who came together at times and also met in separate gymnasiums.

Archbishop George J. Lucas presided at opening and closing Masses this year, visited with people, and as they left on the last day stood with them in photos, blessed them and prayed with them.

"They really found the archbishop is aware of them," Deacon Elizalde said, particularly of the youths. "They feel welcome, they feel there is a space for them in the church. And the adults were very grateful and pleased by what they received."

Maria Garcia of Holy Name Parish in Omaha said she came with her sons, 2-year-old Angel and 4-year-old Max, and daughters, 12-year-old Arlene and 8-year-old Allison, "to be together and learn about God."

Angel Medel, 16, of Assumption-Guadalupe Parish in Omaha, cited similar reasons for attending. "You get to know our Lord Jesus Christ in new ways," he said. "And it brings all of our youth together."

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