Last Sunday my wife and I attended a Mass in an east-end Montreal church with a large Latino congregation. The service was a special one in that the theme was the current unrest in Venezuela.
The church was crowded, standing room only. There could be no doubt that the vast majority of those in attendance were of Venezuelan origin; flags, national ball caps, traditional dresses, and vinotinto soccer shirts were everywhere.
I have been to several services in Latino churches and never cease to be impressed by the vibrancy of the worshippers. Having been brought up in an Irish Catholic household it is always a wonderful surprise to hear upbeat music being played loudly and including drums …. drums in a church! Being used to the more sombre pipe organ, the Latino Mass, not to be confused with a Latin Mass, is a breath of fresh air.
Yet last Sunday’s Mass had its fair share of sombre moments. At one point the celebrating priest called all Venezuelans to come up and stand on the altar. My wife opted to remain in our pew and video the gathering. There must have been two hundred people of all ages standing there, some holding signs bearing the names of those recently killed in the Caracas protests. Then the band started playing and a woman with a lovely strong voice began to sing a much-loved song called Venezuela. This song was written not by a Venezuelan, but by Spaniards Pablo Herrero Ibarz and José Luis Armenteros Sánchez who had fallen in love with the South American country.
The tears started to flow as the song went on and those Venezuelans standing on an altar in Montreal thought about the violent turmoil in their country and feared for loved ones back home. The usually spirited members of the congregation made their way back to their pews obviously deeply moved by the experience.
Following the Mass many gathered in a park across the street from the church for a photo op. Using a drone the word NO+ (no mas – no more) was spelled out by those who braved the unseasonably cool and wet weather. No more murder, no more dictatorship. They want to once again feel they have control of their country.
Sadly there was no media coverage of the event.