By Katie Engesser
Traditional dances were performed at the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Sunset Park for the annual Jornada Cultural Day. The Jornada is for young people; a movement very particular to the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens.
“A lot of the people that are here today are the children, and even grandchildren of older Jornadistas,” said Father James Kuroly, the Jornada’s spiritual director.
The young Jornadistas get together once a week for spiritual direction and prayer.
“We’re loud and proud, we’re Catholic and we love it,” said Jornadista Yaliz Campos.
“I come here not only to show God love,” Jornadista Mari De Los explains, “but also to show that we’re together as a community, as different cultures.”
Inside the church’s parish hall on Sunday, nearly every Hispanic and Latino culture is well represented. While Jornada Cultural Day is a time to celebrate heritage and faith, this year there is also reflection.
Puerto Rico is on the minds of many, including a young Jornadista who dedicated his performance to those lost during Hurricane Maria.
More than a year after Maria slammed into Puerto Rico, recovery on the U.S. island from the deadly storm remains unfinished.
The separation of families who crossed the U.S. Mexico border illegally, and the possible deportation of undocumented immigrants, are also big concerns for the young Jornadistas.
“It’s maybe even scary to come out as Mexican, as Ecuadorian or whoever who are because of what’s going on in this country,” Yaliz explains, “and that sometimes disturbs our faith.”
Faith is what drives the Jornada forward, enriching the Catholic belief in God from generation to generation.
“And that’s the beauty of this movement,” Father Kuroly said, “is that it’s passed down not just as a movement or a tradition of a movement, but as the encounter of Christ and the receiving of that faith.”
For fifty years, the Jornada movement in the Brooklyn Diocese has seen young people evangelizing other young people, so that they too come to the church.