Immaculate Heart church, HALO team up for Cinco de Mayo celebration

HAYS, KS -- The Hispanic-American Leadership Organization of Fort Hays State University will assist Hays' Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in hosting a Cinco de Mayo celebration on the church premises,1805 Vine, on Saturday, May 7.

Cinco de Mayo celebrates a great victory by Mexican partisans over forces fighting for French Emperor Napoleon III and his puppet Hapsburg "emperor" of Mexico, Maximilian, on May 5, 1862.

This is the second year the church has hosted the Cinco de mayo celebration for the community and the first year HALO has collaborated with them.

The church started the celebration last year in response to a request by the diocese of Salina. The diocese wanted churches to meet the needs of the increasing diversified population of Hays. In response, the church started a 12:30 p.m. Sunday mass in Spanish for its Hispanic parishioners (Hispanic parishioners are about 10 percent of the congregation), and a celebration of the cultures represented in the parish German and Mexican.

Becky Stence, a member of the Cinco de Mayo planning committee, said that the celebration is a great way for people to come out, share their cultures, learn about other cultures and interact with people they might otherwise not have the opportunity to meet.

The Latin American activities at the church have been spearheaded by Father Francisco Montoya, who is himself from Mexico. Four of the nuns at the church are also Mexican.

The celebration begins at 5 p.m. with a bilingual mass and will be followed by food, games and a traditional dance at 6. A dance featuring Groupo Impacto, a group specializing in Mexican music, begins at 8 p.m. The group has members who live in Hays as well as members who live in Colorado.

Free-will donations are accepted and encouraged for the dance. The celebration is a non-profit event. Proceeds, which include 10 percent of vendors' profits and donations, fund the event.

FHSU HALO students will teach traditional dance steps, man booths, pay for the band and help with decorations, pinatas and publicity. Diana de Santiago, co-president of FHSU HALO, is excited about the opportunity of collaborating with the church.

" For a long time, we have talked about getting more involved in the community," she said. "Father Francisco has been doing a lot of great things. We are pleased that we are finally getting to do it. We spent all of Thursday making pinatas and are looking forward to having a great time."

For more information, please contact Stence or Father Montoya at (785) 625-7339 or the FHSU Office of Multicultural Affairs at (785) 628-5558.

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