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Brazzil - Community - February 2004
 

Brazilians Meet and Pray in New York

After the mass, which lasted just over an hour and ended with the
distribution of ashes to those who missed the ritual on Ash
Wednesday, the congregation descended to the church's main hall,
where a lunch was offered. The music varied while the crowd
slowly filled the dance floor after dessert had been served.

Ernest Barteldes


On the first nice Sunday New York had in many weeks, the growing Brazilian community in lower Manhattan celebrated the second anniversary of their weekly meetings at the Portuguese-language mass at Our Lady of Pompeii Church on Carmine Street in Greenwich Village.

At 1:30 pm, the church was packed, something that does not happen every day there. Regulars brought family members who don't usually come, and though it was the first Sunday of Lent (a period of prayer and fasting for Catholics), everyone there seemed to be in a very celebratory mood.

After a solemn ceremonial entrance, Italian-born Father Joseph Cogo, the parish's vicar, welcomed all of those present in English and commented on how the idea of having a Brazilian mass meet there two years ago came to be, and said how pleased he was to see that a community had formed—which is something that was quite pleasing to see.

The mass was presided by Father Sérgio, a Brazilian immigrant from the strongly Italian/German populated southern state of Rio Grande do Sul.

In his brief homily, he focused on the day's scriptures, which were about the 40 days in which Jesus spent in the desert and how he'd been tempted by Satan.

He took the time, however, to praise the efforts of everyone in the Brazilian community—a large group of hard-working immigrants who left their countries in search of better opportunities here—in coming together and effectively turning Our Lady of Pompeii into their home away from home.

After the mass, which lasted just over an hour and ended with the distribution of ashes to those who missed the ritual on Ash Wednesday, the congregation descended to the church's main hall, where a lunch was offered by the midtown-based Churrascaria Plataforma.

Tickets were sold for a mere $ 5 (funds were raised to pay for the expenses of the community), and more people showed up than was expected, which forced organizers to make last-minute arrangements with the food. Small portions were served at first, but as the restaurant rushed extra helpings downtown, participants were able to have second and even third servings later on. Drinks were also made available. Soft drinks were sold for $ 1, while beer and wine went for as little as 2 dollars.

The music varied as the DJ played samba, forró, and other Brazilian rhythms while the crowd slowly filled the dance floor after dessert had been served. Everyone—including Father Sergio, Father Cogo this writer and friends—were having a great time, and by the time I left the festivities were far from over.


Ernest Barteldes is an ESL and Portuguese teacher. In addition to that, he is a freelance writer who has regularly been contributing The Greenwich Village Gazette since September 1999. His work has also been published by Brazzil, The Staten Island Advance, The Staten Island Register, The SI Muse, The Villager, GLSSite and other publications. He lives in Staten Island, NY. He can be reached at ebarteldes@yahoo.com


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