BY MELISSA SOLANO
“Enculturation of faith is a beautiful thing,” said Latinos for Christ president Benjamin Valle about the club, and especially about the club’s recent Hispanic Heritage Week celebrations at Franciscan University of Steubenville.
Sept. 15-Oct. 15 is National Hispanic Month and celebrates a multitude of Latino countries that received their independence around this time period. Franciscan’s Latinos for Christ club scheduled several events for the week of Oct. 7, starting with a t-shirt toss behind the J.C. Williams Center.
Other events during the week included a bilingual night of Praise and Worship and a “Loteria” game night in the Assisi Heights Community Center.
On Oct. 9 the club hosted a talk entitled “Seeing Christ in All People: The Truths of Immigration.” Members of the club also shared their own testimonies of dealing with immigration and helped to educate students as to the Catholic Church’s stance on the issue.
The wall of the J.C. Williams Center was decorated throughout the week with some of these testimonies, as well as with photos and information on ‘Dia de Los Muertos,’ a fall holiday coming up in Hispanic culture.
Hispanic Heritage Week wrapped up on Oct. 11 with the “Fiesta de Independencia.” There was Mexican food for sale for the fiesta, including churros, beans, rice and drinks. Students who attended had the opportunity to dress up in themed props to take pictures in the photo booth area and salsa dance in the brightly decorated area.
There was even a piñata set up among the decorations for students. The band Roca performed early in the evening, playing a set of songs with a Hispanic theme and a drum rhythm for students to dance to.
“People love taking part in our events and it’s a great way to involve everyone and teach everyone about the Latino culture,” said Javier Sandoval, one of the original members who helped found the Latinos for Christ club in the fall of 2004.
The club meets every Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the J.C. Williams Center’s International Room. The club alternates each week between formational meetings that focus on education of different Latino cultures and salsa dancing lessons. Each week the meetings offer various foods from different Latino cultures, such as Mexican, El Salvadorian, Puerto Rican, Dominican Republican and Ecuadorian.
“We saw the need for a Latino community on campus,” said Valle, “and community is essential for life.”
“We don’t intend for the club to be exclusive to only Latinos,” added Sandoval. “On the contrary, we invite and encourage students of other backgrounds to join in and enjoy the Latino culture.”
In terms of future events, the club is planning its second annual Lady of Guadalupe celebration, which was a very popular event among Franciscan students last year. They hope to establish a Hispanic scholarship fund for Latino students coming to the University, and are planning a possible club pilgrimage to see the world’s largest Lady of Guadalupe statue, which is located just two hours away in Windsor, Ohio.