Over the years, the Hispanic community here at St. Francis Xavier has been growing, and many of the members do not speak English. Even though a Spanish Mass has been regularly offered on Sundays since 2005, Dr. Cida Chase saw a need to help these parishioners learn English, so they may better understand the English-speaking parishioners and the Stillwater community.
Dr. Chase has a Ph.D. in Romance Languages and has taught Spanish and French grammar and literature for many years. After retiring in 2005, she decided to establish the Spanish class, so beginning an English as a Second Language class was a natural next step.
“In a church context, as in life, it is most important to understand the language of the community in which one lives,” Dr. Chase says. “Knowledge of a language promotes understanding and respect for the people who speak the language. One’s language reflects one’s view of reality, so if one does not understand a people’s language, one will not understand them either — one may even fear them.”
Dr. Chase and Mrs. Fay Cypret teach the class every Sunday from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. after the Spanish Mass. Participants are free to attend whenever they can. Sometimes there is a group of eight to 10 members — at other times, there may be only one or two. The class will take place each week, even if there is only one person who shows up.
“The important point of this program is that the people know that there is an English class available for those parishioners who do not speak the language,” Dr. Chase says. “This ministry has also helped to promote more understanding of cultures other than the Hispanic because all of those who do not speak English, regardless of their ethnic origin are most welcome to the class.”
This class has provided a wonderful opportunity for St. Francis Xavier to evangelize to the broader Stillwater community. Students have brought friends and family to the Spanish Mass and English class who otherwise did not know about the Spanish Mass or participate in any other church ministry.
“I would like to invite to join this ministry anyone who would like to help, or who would want to get better acquainted with the Spanish-speaking community,” Dr. Chase says.
If you are interested, contact Dr. Cida Chase at Vcida.email@example.com or 405-377-0671.