Galdino Tapia used to believe that Mass was a place to go simply to sit and listen. These days, he helps to make the Mass what it is.
Galdino leads the Luc de Cristo music ministry that plays regularly at the Spanish-language Mass at St. Frances Cabrini Church. Over the past 15 years, he has helped to build up the Hispanic congregation into the vibrant community that it is today.
“I came from a family that was Catholic by custom,” he explained. “We went to church to listen. Nothing more. No one went across that barrier.” When he moved to Ocean City and realized he was living only a block from a church with a Spanish language Mass, he started attending. At St. Frances Cabrini, he saw lay people singing and playing musical instruments as part of the worship service. With the encouragement of his priest, he began to participate.
“The Hispanic community was small then,” he recalled. “Only a few people played music.” Eventually, so many musicians became involved that the group was large enough to split into two adult music ministries. As a vocalist, Galdino was happy to take the lead of Luc de Cristo. Now the enthusiasm has spread to the next generation. A third music ministry, Guerreros de Cristo, features young people.
As he worked to build up the music ministry, Galdino also worked to build up his Catholic faith and understanding. “Before, I knew nothing,” he said. “I did not even know what the Eucharist was.” All of that changed when Galdino enrolled in a course on the sacred Scriptures that was offered through the Instituto de Ministerio Eclesial de Camden (IMEC). The course helped him to address his questions and confusions. He also came to understand the important role of disciples in the life of the Church. Now Galdino reads the Bible regularly. “When I read the Bible I lose my sense of time,” he said. “There is no end to it.”
Galdino’s knowledge of the Scripture helps him with his work in the music ministry. He looks carefully at the liturgy and the Mass theme and chooses music that will deepen the experience of the Mass. Sometimes he prepares musical scores to aid the musicians. Members of Luc de Christo will practice for two hours before a Mass that they are serving. It is a big commitment. “The musicians buy their own instruments and equipment,” he explained. “Then they have to leave their families in the evening to come to practice.” Galdino makes clear that their commitment is not to him. “The commitment is to God,” he said, “and at the end of the day, we see our reward is with God.”
As one of the founding members of the Hispanic ministry in Ocean City, Galdino has seen his community flourish. Many holy events have been added. At Christmas, there are the community novenas and the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Lent brings the Living Stations of the Cross. Círculo de Oración is held every week. Many people are brought into the lay ministries through charismatic retreats that are held in the diocese, but Galdino realizes that not all Hispanic churches in our area are built up in this way. As a true disciple of Christ, Galdino has become involved with a small congregation in Wildwood, where he contributes as a musician and shares experiences and ideas. “The church there needs leaders to start something so that the community will come together,” he said. “There is a lot to do, so I am working here and helping there.” His main commitment will always be with St. Frances Cabrini Church. Speaking of his faith, he said, “This is the house where I grew up.”
In the midst of all of these responsibilities, Galdino works fulltime. One of his adult children and his granddaughter live in Ocean City.
Finally, Galdino prays that the Anglo and Hispanic worshippers of St. Damien Parish will find more ways to be together and share each other’s ideas and customs. At this, he turns to St. John 17:21: “May all be one like you, Father, you are in me and I in you. May they also be one in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”