Bringing Pentecost to life

Multicultural celebration at Seattle parish commemorates the coming of the Spirit

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By Jean Parietti

The languages, music, dress and food of diverse cultures meshed at St. Bridget Church in Seattle on Pentecost Sunday.

“It just came to my knowledge, two years into my being here, that this place is not quite 100 percent white as people thought,” said Father Stephen Okumu, the Kenyan pastor of St. Bridget’s, located in Seattle’s Laurelhurst neighborhood.

Parishioners hail from places like Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Kenya, Cameroon, Mexico and the Philippines. Other parishioners take pride in tracing their heritage to European and other counties. “It’s a really diverse community, so we decided to have a multicultural Pentecost celebration,” Father Okumu said.

For the June 8 celebration, parishioners were invited to dress in the attire of their native countries. Prayers of the faithful were read in English, Swahili, German, Spanish and Hindi. When it was time for the Our Father, everyone was invited to pray in their native language at the same time.

After Mass, a mariachi band led parishioners to the parish hall, where they feasted on foods from various countries.  

The events reflected the beginnings of the church, when the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles and they began speaking in different tongues, understood by the people from various countries who were present.

“I just want to let people know that we all belong,” Father Okumu said of the multicultural celebration. “We are all baptized, we are all created in the image and likeness of God.”

June 10, 2014