SALT LAKE CITY — Monsignor Jose Elias Rauda Gutierrez O.F.M., Bishop of the Diocese of San Vicente, El Salvador, came to the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City Dec. 21-30 to visit those parishes that are served by a Salvadoran priest.
Five diocesan priests are originally from El Salvador: Fr. Jose A. Barrera Hernandez, Fr. Jose Fidel Barrera-Cruz, Fr. Rafael A. Murillo Ventura, Fr. Oscar Manuel Hernandez Hernandez and Fr. Marco Tulio Lopez. They welcomed Bishop Rauda, opening the doors of their parishes to him.
At a Mass Dec. 28 at St. Therese of the Child Jesus Catholic Church in Midvale, Bishop Rauda grabbed a guitar and shared some Christmas carols with parishioners.
At the parishes of San Felipe in Wendover, St. Andrew in Riverton, Our Lady of Guadalupe in Salt Lake City and St. Marguerite in Tooele, Bishop Rauda shared his Franciscan humility with parishioners.
“One thing that has made me very proud of our Salvadoran priests has been to see firsthand their ability to unite different cultures at their parishes. … I was not planning on celebrating Masses at their parishes but when I did it was a very good surprise,” Bishop Rauda said.
His visit to Utah was part of his duty to accompany these priests wherever they are, he said.
“I value all their work, each one of their parishes has a different spirit. … One of the priests doesn’t have a church as such,” said Bishop Rauda, referring to fact that the Masses at St. Andrew are celebrated in the school gym, which every weekend transforms into a chapel. “For me, it’s really pleasant to see all the work that they do.”
Bishop Rauda said that contrary to what he has seen in other states where the Hispanic congregation [in this case the Salvadorans] are in separate groups and celebrate their traditions alone, ”here in Utah all the community – Anglos, Hispanics and others alike – are together celebrating and participating as one whole community.”
“When you get over the language barrier and take away the shame and you are not afraid, all the divisions get erased,” and these priests are examples of that, he said.
Bishop Rauda wanted to tell the Salvadoran priests in Utah that he, as well as Bishop Oscar A. Solis, value and treasure their service to the community.
“I recognize all the contributions that they make to our Universal Church in their local churches, and for that I am also thankful. … Now here in Utah and then when I am in El Salvador, I will continue saying ‘Animo’ – you are doing good.”
Fr. Barrera Hernandez said it was an honor for him to have welcomed Bishop Rauda to St. Therese Parish.
“All the community was really excited to meet with him,” he said.
Similar feelings were expressed by Fr. Barrera Cruz, who said that Our Lady of Guadalupe parishioners were grateful and honored by the bishop’s visit.