A Popular Argentine Priest Inspires Hispanic Catholics

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Father Javier Olivera Ravasi, an Argentine priest, scholar and notable social media influencer, gave two talks to Hispanic Catholics who attended a Eucharistic conference held at St. Peter’s Cathedral in Kansas City, Kansas. LEVEN PHOTO BY MATT MCCABE

by Matt McCabe
sourdough special

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A Eucharistic conference hosted by St. Peter’s Cathedral here brought together Hispanic Catholics from across the Kansas City Archdiocese in Kansas for a Mass and two presentations on May 14.

Father Javier Olivera Ravasi, an Argentine priest, scholar and notable social media influencer, gave two talks to Hispanic Catholics who attended. He gave similar talks during the same trip to the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph and the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska.

The event drew a large audience to the cathedral. Welcoming Spanish speakers and establishing links with the Hispanic community is an important mission for the rector of the cathedral, Father Anthony Saiki.

“We try to integrate both languages ​​as much as possible into the life of the parish, because really, the ministry has to be in English and Spanish here,” he said.

Father Olivera’s first talk explained the importance of the Eucharist as the focal point of the Mass. It took place inside the cathedral after mass.

In a second lecture at an informal reception in the parish hall, Father Olivera answered questions from the audience and spoke about some of his more scholarly pursuits, such as his study of the Cristero movement, which was a period of persecution against Catholics in Mexico in the early 20th century.

His words inspired “Eucharistic amazement” in the eyes of the parish, Fr Saiki said.

“The bishops are beginning this eucharistic revival, this pastoral movement, to really reinstill in each of us a sense of love, faith and devotion for the presence of the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, that he is truly present there – body , blood, soul and divinity,” Fr. Saiki said.

The cathedral rector is experienced in issues of diversity and inclusion from his former pastoral missions. Before coming to the cathedral, he was at Holy Cross Church in Overland Park. It was there that he hosted an educational movie night during the canonization of José Sánchez del Río, a 14-year-old Mexican Cristero killed by the oppressive government.

One of his former parishioners attended the recent Eucharistic conference.

“It was very personal,” said Claudia Bustos, a Holy Cross parishioner. “I don’t know if it was because it was inside the church, but sometimes I almost felt like he was talking directly to me. It was a very moving conversation, and I got a lot out of it. I really did.

During the question-and-answer portion, Fr. Olivera related many of his personal experiences to his appreciation of the liturgy, which he said centers on song.

“In reality, the more one can sing, the better, because the liturgy actually has to be much more,” Fr. Olivera said.

“But I had a partner in seminary who was forbidden to sing at Mass,” he said to a room full of laughter. “It’s so bad, so bad that I couldn’t listen to it.”

Her message resonated with a room full of adults, but also with many young people, including Janegro Herrera, a Hispanic high school student from Shawnee.

“They could probably find something in themselves or learn something from the priest that they could use in the future,” Herrera said of the youngsters listening to Father Olivera’s first talk in the cathedral.

In a blog post published after his lecture series, Fr. Olivera highlighted his support for Catholic education in the United States and its importance in protecting the prosperity of Hispanic Catholic Americans.

“Unfortunately, those who arrive [from their homelands] . . . manage to maintain the faith that they bring from their countries, but not the following generations, who did not even have a Catholic school education,” Fr. Olivera wrote.

“Hence the need. . . ensure that Catholic schools, in addition to being Catholic and not just in name, are financially accessible to all.

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