Monday, February 09, 2009

Church group aims to lure young immigrants back from the streets

A Catholic group is trying to get young Guatemalan immigrants back to the church and away from drugs and gangs. They didn't have those temptations in their own countries, but now that they are here, they are getting into big trouble. DP

By BECKY W. EVANS, Standard-Times staff writer

NEW BEDFORD — A Catholic charismatic group is reaching out to the city's Mayan youth in an effort to draw them back to religion and away from drugs, gangs and violence.

The group, known as Nuevo Amanecer (which translates to New Dawn in English), worships in the basement of St. Kilian's Catholic Church on Sunday afternoons following the Spanish Mass. The prayer service, which features singing, dancing and electronic music, draws a fervent crowd of about 50 people, mainly Guatemalan Mayans who speak K'iche, an indigenous language. The leader of the service translates the message from the morning sermon into K'iche so church members can better understand what they heard during Mass.

Adrian Ventura, one of the founders of Nuevo Amanecer's New Bedford chapter, said many young Guatemalan immigrants stop practicing their Catholic faith after they settle in New Bedford.

"So many get lost with diversions," said Mr. Ventura, who spoke in Spanish through a translator. "In rural areas (of Guatemala) there are not so many bad influences. Here (in New Bedford) there are drugs on the street and bars and fights."
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

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