Mexican immigrants gathered together to celebrate their native culture as well as the Roman Catholic feast of the three kings or wise men, known the Feast of the Epiphany, in the auditorium of St. Lucy School on Sunday, January 4.
Bright colorful displays of pride were evident as the group gathered to sing popular Spanish songs and perform dances from their native Mexico. A full helping of rice, beans, pork, and other staples of food of Latino nations were served to a population of recent immigrants.
The event, which took place in St. Lucy School’s auditorium at 833 Mace Avenue, brought back familiar sights and sounds of their native country to the people in attendance. It is the 14th year that the remembrance of the ‘three wise men’ bringing gifts to the baby Jesus being commemorated with a dual celebration of Hispanic immigrant culture.
“This event is really a celebration of Hispanic culture regarding the Christmas season,” said Fr. Robert Norris, pastor of St. Lucy’s Church. “The Three Wise Men celebration is a wonderful opportunity to gather, celebrate, and give gifts to the children. It is not really the gifts in and of themselves, but what the gifts represent to the children, that matters.”
Many children were in attendance, and toys that were collected by community activists such as Irene Estrada Rukaj and her Mini Olympics project, as well as from elsewhere, were distributed to each child. Rukaj said that the organization she founded in 1994 had collected over 2,000 toys to be distributed to St. Lucy and other churches throughout the Bronx this holiday season.
The celebration drew people of all ages into the center of the gymnasium for dancing.
St. Lucy’s Parish, which is located at 2401 Bronxwood Avenue, holds English as a Second Language and a soup kitchen every Saturday for immigrant populations in the school’s cafeteria. The parish also holds masses in Spanish, as well as Italian, reflecting the diversity of the area.
The number of Mexican-American families in St. Lucy Parish has grown substantially in the last seven years, with more and more immigrant Roman Catholics from all parts of Central America, South America and Mexico, as well as Eastern Europe, now calling the parish home.
“There is a large population of recent immigrants in the area,” Norris stated. “The people are usually of much more limited means financially, so this is a nice way for them to gather together and celebrate their culture. This celebration and the other help we offer are run by the community, not by us, and they are in charge of making food, collecting toys, and other things through their own groups.”