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Prisca Estrada, visiting from Mexico, and her sister, Maria del Carmen Estrada of St. Joseph Parish in Omaha (writing in notebook) take in a speaker’s message July 30 at the Hispanic Congress of Mercy. Photo by Michael Stevens.

Hispanic Congress draws more than 800

More than 800 people gathered for a Hispanic "Congress of Mercy" July 30-31 in Omaha – a turnout that has organizers talking about another, similar event next year.

Speakers, choirs, mariachi bands, a youth play and a closing Mass celebrated by Archbishop George J. Lucas were among highlights of the all-Spanish event, "Experiencing Together God’s Mercy," at V.J. and Angela Skutt Catholic High School.

People were "very attentive, participative and enjoying as … a family united and with faith," said Deacon Gregorio Elizalde, manager of the archdiocese’s Latino Ministry Office, which sponsored the first-ever gathering.

People at the gathering also appreciated the fact that, in addition to celebrating the July 31 Mass, the archbishop joined those at the event for about four hours July 30, Deacon Elizalde said.

And they were excited for a second go-round next year, he said.

Raul Tellez, a member of St. Joseph Parish in Omaha, attending with his wife and three young children, said the congress kept his children’s attention throughout.

"They had fun – they enjoyed it," he said.

Still grieving the death of his mother a month earlier, he was personally strengthened by one of the talks, Tellez said.

The speaker "was talking about her own life and how Jesus and her own faith made her stronger. It helped me a lot," he said.

Mirna Price of Sacred Heart Parish in Norfolk said she found the event eye opening.

"It was an experience that allowed me to reflect on what I’m doing, whether for my community or my parish, and how I can be a better leader, and how to bring people who don’t know Jesus toward the church and God," she said.

She also was impressed with seeing so many archdiocesan organizations and groups in one gathering, coming together as one community. "We were all there together, living out our faith," she said.

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