Hispanic Outreach at St. John’s in the Village
In 2021, St. John’s in the Village hosted a number of events as part of its ongoing recognition of the various Spanish-speaking communities in the Diocese of New York.
An exhibition of Cuban watercolors by John Emmitt Connors, “Urban Narratives: Havana to New York,” was featured in the church’s art space, Revelation Gallery, for the entire month of July. Painted from photographs taken during an educational tour of the island, they reflect the artist’s interest in architecture as “evidence of layers of time.” The exhibition was co-presented with the Cuban Cultural Center of New York. On July 31, St. John’s partnered again with the Center to mark the end of the exhibition with an outdoor cabaret event in St. Benedict’s Courtyard. Carlos del Pino and his three-piece band “Sones de Cuba” entertained a large gathering with Cuban music.
On Sunday, July 25, the parish observed the Feast of St. James the Great, the patron saint of Spain. His relics are said to be in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, the destination of “The Way of St. James,” a pilgrimage famous among Christians the world over. His feast is celebrated in Spain and various countries in Latin America. The St. John’s mass included parts of the liturgy sung in Spanish by a cantor who is a native speaker of the language. The first reading was also presented in Spanish. In every case translations were provided in the bulletin so that English speakers could engage in the celebration. The mass concluded with a stirring rendition of a work by Spanish composer Francisco Correa de Arauxo. A video recording of the mass is available on the St. John’s YouTube channel at https://youtu.be/QMSKEXdllG0 .
On August 12, St. John’s welcomed Honduran tenor Marco Matute for a concert of songs of various genres sung in English, Latin, Italian or Spanish. In addition to being a singer, Mr. Matute is a songwriter, playwright and music producer.
Plays have always been a feature of St. John’s art program, and from August 14 through September 19, the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater presented “Ni Mi Madre” by Arturo Luis Soria. The work explores the joys and tribulations of an immigrant and first generation American, as well as the challenges of being transgender in a Latino culture. The playwright is personally familiar with navigating a multicultural environment, tracing his ancestry to Italy, Brazil, Ecuador, and the Dominican Republic.
Later that month in Revelation Gallery, a selection of short films by Michael Jacobsohn was screened, featuring gifted, but struggling, artists. Those highlighted included the Mexican Hugo Munoz, whose ink drawing “Wall of Shame” calls attention to the barrier that would separate the United States from Mexico. Two other films show the results of his collaboration with James Garland: “Love No Border” depicts a recent tragic incident along the southern border, and “The Passage” explores the worldwide plight of undocumented migrants and refugees.
Information on Hispanic and other events in the future can be found on the St. John’s website http://www.stjvny.org/.