Interview: "Prophetic Listening" at Misa Aleluya

ECM’s ten-month program, “Prophetic Listening” works with parishes to deepen the parish’s sense of relational culture, begin or join a community justice initiative in their community, and increase the number of people engaged in the work of community engagement. In the program, teams made up of parishioners and wider community members learn leadership practices that enable them to listen and respond to how God is calling them to love boldly and do justice.

This month we are lifting up the work of Misa Aleluya, a Latinx congregation that worships at All Saints Worcester, through an interview with the facilitators who are leading the congregation through the PLP program. Padre Jose Reyes is the Missioner for Latino/Hispanic Ministries in the Diocese of Western MA and the Lead Pastor of Misa Aleluya. Deacon Ema Rosero is a Deacon in the Diocese of Massachusetts and has ample experience in nurturing hispanic ministries in our church. Savannah Haugh is a former life together intern who served with Padre Edwin Johnson at St. Mary’s in Dorchester where they supported a vibrant Latinx ministry. ECM interviewed Savannah, Padre Jose, and Deacon Ema this week.

ECM: When did Misa Aleluya begin? And, how would you describe the congregation?

JR: Misa began in September 2016 and, since then, we have grown from an average Sunday attendance of 5 to 35 parishioners. We are a congregation that tries to embody God's love in the world: love for ourselves as children of God, which inspires us to step up as leaders in our community; love for each other, seeking the face of Christ in everyone we meet even if they look, sound and think differently from us;  and loving our community by being a congregation that listens and is present in our neighborhood as an influence and an example of compassion and grace.

ECM: What motivated you to join the Prophetic Listening Program?

JR: In the past two and a half years we have been focusing internally; on growing the church and raising up new leaders. However, the work of the Church is in the community. While we will continue to work on growing spiritually and as a congregation, we are now at a point where there is energy to begin focusing on our wider community as well and we have parishioners that want to begin work with our neighborhood. Prophetic Listening is helping us to listen to the voices in our community, in our church and in ourselves to help discern what God is calling us to do and be as a congregation.

ECM: What inspires you about Misa Aleluya?

ER: What inspires me about the work I've I done at Misa Aleluya is the call of the Spirit to serve which I always respond with love, enthusiasm and commitment to attend to the desires of our Latino communities when they so eagerly embark in programs, projects, and new adventures in which they deepen their faith journey, explore, and realize God’s action and mission offered to each one of us in our communities and to the world.

SH: I feel so inspired by so much at Misa Aleluya! The community at Misa Aleluya is perhaps what inspires, and rejuvenates me, the most, though. People are so incredibly invested in each other, in supporting each other, in sharing stories with each other, in feeding each other and looking after each other. It is inspiring for me to see a group of people who so reflexively and wholeheartedly come together to nourish spirits and bodies. When I visited for the first time, people were very welcoming, taking the time to come introduce themselves and give a kiss on the cheek during and after the service. The community shared a plentiful lunch, and after a sharing circle led by Ema and I, it was hard to get people out the door. We just kept hanging around and chatting as José tried to herd us out. At one point, I complimented one of the community members on her scarf, saying I loved the colors, and she promptly took it off and gave it to me. I protested, and so she gave me the opportunity to learn from her not just how to give freely and spontaneously, but also the importance of receiving gifts. Misa Aleluya inspires me because it is a place where gifts of all kinds flow freely.

ECM: What do you hope comes from the work at Misa Aleluya?

SH: I'm really hoping that the folks at Misa Aleluya, at the end of our work together, can see for themselves what I see already in them: a group of absolutely incredible organizers and community builders who are poised to make a lasting impact on their neighborhood, and on each other and those they meet. They are already organizers, already change-makers, already invested wholeheartedly --because of their own experiences and the experiences of those they love-- in the kind of deep structural change that our society so desperately needs. And they already have the tools to do it. I hope that the community feels the confidence in themselves, their vision, and their abilities by the end of this time that I already see in them! And I hope (and intend) to continue learning and growing from them in the process, and hope they will come to see themselves as the teachers they already are!

ER: My hope for this partnership is for ECM not only to rejoice in what has been accomplished so far and as seen in Misa Aleluya, but also to give serious consideration to the importance of inviting Latinos and Latinas to the design team when programs such as Prophetic Listening are being envisioned and created with them in mind. We all can learn so much from each other!