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 formedwhich is something that was quite pleasing
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 communitya large
group of hard-working immigrants who left their countries in search of better
opportunities herein 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
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
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. Everyoneincluding
Father Sergio, Father Cogo this writer and friendswere 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