When Rosalia Gil faces a problem, she talks it over first with her best friend–God. “Maybe later I will talk with my family,” she explained, “but God first.”
Living close to God has become a way of life for Rosalia and her family. She is an altar server and lector at the Spanish-language Masses at St. Frances Cabrini Church and a weekday altar server at St. Augustine Church. Her husband, Armando Flores, is a Eucharistic minister. Her older daughter, Melanie, is also an altar server. Melanie will be confirmed later this year, and daughter Amanda will have her first communion. Then there is young Samuel, who regularly accompanies his parents to weekday Mass. “Like Hannah in the Bible, I prayed for the birth of my son,” Rosalia said.
Rosalia and Armando try to attend church every day when work does not interfere. “My daughter asked me why I go to church every day,” she smiled. “I told her, I pray for you and I pray that our family will always be together.” There was a time in her life when Rosalia was separated from God and the church and it hurt her relationships. She does not want that for her children. “Children have a different life when they have God,” she said.
Altar serving at the Spanish-language Mass began about five years ago. Last year one of Rosalia’s friends suggested she serve at the weekday Mass in English at St. Augustine Church, so she agreed. Rosalia also has been a lector for several years. When she was first asked, her reaction was, “Let me think.” Then, “Why think?” she concluded. “I liked to read when I was a student. I was reading the Bible at home. So I realized I could read in church. I was nervous at first but it became easy.” Rosalia said that when she reads the scripture at Mass she hears God talk to her first and then everybody else.
Rosalia moved to Ocean City six years ago. She likes belonging to a parish that has multiple churches and opportunities to worship at different hours of the day. She is also encouraged by the growth and unity of the Hispanic congregation in Ocean City. Because of outreach, there has been enormous growth in the number of people attending Spanish-language Mass at St. Frances Cabrini. “In 2003, this congregation began with maybe ten people,” she reflected, “but it just keeps getting bigger.”
For the last three years Rosalia has been one of the hosts of the Christmas novenario known as Las Posadas, a 400-year-old Mexican tradition. For nine nights between December 16 and December 24, two people dressed as Mary and Joseph seek shelter at different houses where people gather for prayer. “Then we visit and eat,” Rosalia explained. Rosalia also was one of the volunteers who helped in the recent renovations at Culliney Hall in St. Frances Cabrini Church.
Rosalia prays for big things for her family and other immigrant families like hers. One of those prayers was to be able to see her mother and father. “One time, please,” she asked. Last year her parents secured visas from Mexico and came to see their daughter and grandchildren. She is patient in prayer and has confidence that other big, protective favors will come to her and others. “For now, I wait,” she said.
On the morning we talked with Rosalia, she had just come from altar serving. She pointed out that the Gospel reading that day came from Mark 5: 25-34 and was about the woman who communicated her faith by touching the fringe of Jesus’s garment. “When you put your faith in God,” Rosalia said, “always it will be good because God is perfect.”