“Bienvenidos!” exclaimed Father Bruce Wellems in Spanish to a cheering crowd of more than 50 parishioners and employees at Little Company of Mary’s Chapel, as the parish celebrated the first Spanish Mass in honor of Cinco de Mayo. Fr. Bruce Wellems celebrated the Mass and delighted the Hospital’s Chapel with a full marimbas choir performed by children.
The marimba is a keyboard percussion instrument, similar to a xylophone, originating in southern Mexico and Central America. The large size (some over four octaves) allows up to four “marimbistas” to play together on one instrument. This is a wonderful experience for children to learn to work together. The music is augmented by bass guitar and other percussion instruments. Working with parents and mentors, the program today inspires mission, music and a whole lot of people who want to support the dreams of the children who perform.
As the marimbas choir sang Alabare (praise) in Spanish, it was beautiful to see many non-Spanish speaking parishioners and employees sing and follow along in English. “The word “Catholic” means “universal,” and it is a great joy that we can continue to reach out, pray and sing with all of our brothers and sisters as members of our Catholic faith community. A community that is rich in faith, tradition and family,” said Fr. Bruce Wellems.
For more than 20 years, Fr. Bruce Wellems has been a cheerleader, a confidant, a voice of reason and, at times, the only advocate for troubled children in Back of the Yards neighborhood. The Marimba Ensemble has been a sign of hope for the Back of the Yards community. It is overseen by Fr. Bruce Wellems, CMF, and led by a team of over 40 young players. The Marimba Ensemble plays every Sunday at the 10:30 a.m. mass at Holy Cross Church located at 46th and Hermitage, Chicago, Illinois.
“I have so many memories here at Little Company of Mary Hospital. I remember coming here on many occasions to pray for the sick and dying members of my neighborhood. So many young souls lost due to violence. I remember very well the compassion that was given by LCM nurses, doctors, chaplains and housekeeping personnel. Little Company of Mary stays true to their calling and mission. As followers of Christ, you received the call to provide healing and compassion. You are the greater Company of Mary, said Fr. Bruce Wellems.
There was a reception following the Spanish Mass that included a variety of traditional Mexican treats such as Churros (Spanish doughnut) and Aqua de lemon (lemonade). “We hope that this is the start of a wonderful “Cinco de Mayo” tradition here at Little Company of Mary Hospital,” said Mary Jo Quick, Vice President of Missions and Spirituality.