Cultural DiversityNews

Event celebrates faith, friendship


RECOGNITION: Rigoberto and Matildé García, from Our Lady of Refuge Parish, were among those honored for their service to their community at the Unity Dinner on Oct. 21. (Credit: Iliana De Lara)

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SAN DIEGO — “This is like being with family.”

That’s how Narciso Guzmán described being at the Unity Dinner, organized by the diocese’s Hispanic Commission.

More than 530 people attended the annual event, held on Oct. 21 at Good Shepherd Church in Mira Mesa. They came from parishes and ministries from across San Diego County to celebrate their faith and friendships.

“I come every year. I like it because you feel happiness and brotherhood,” said one of those on hand, Lucy Cardona, from the ministry El Sembrador at St. Rose of Lima Parish in Chula Vista. “I see so many people I know.”

Jesús and Silvia Figueroa, from St. John of the Cross Parish in Lemon Grove, attended for the first time.

“I’m inspired by coming together with people from different communities in the Catholic Church,” Silvia Figueroa said.

As the featured speaker, Auxiliary Bishop Ramón Bejarano shared highlights of the national plan to engage and serve Hispanic Catholics, who represent around 42% of the Catholic population in the country.

Father Edmundo Zárate-Suárez, pastor of St. Jude Shrine of the West Parish, served as the master of ceremonies.

Pastors had nominated individuals in their communities to be recognized for their outstanding service to God. They received awards one by one to hearty applause.

The Hispanic Commission gave a special recognition to Charlotte Fajardo, who worked alongside now Auxiliary Bishop Michael Pham to coordinate Hispanic events.

“I’m the Filipina that celebrates with the Hispanics,” said Fajardo upon taking the stage to receive the recognition.

Proceeds from the dinner are used to maintain Quinta de Guadalupe, a retreat center used by Hispanic ministries near Imperial Beach.

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