His heart bursting with the love of Christ, the Rev. Santos Flores has presided over Iglesia Episcopal San Clemente de Roma in Huntington Park for nearly a quarter century. If there’s a gap in the liturgy as he’s setting the table or cleaning up, Padre Santos sings. If he doesn’t think folks have said “alleluia” with sufficient gusto at the dismissal, he improvises a bit of litany and exhorts them to more confident expressions of joy as they head out into he world, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.
I was along Sunday for a Mothers Day celebration for the ages. Thanks to the selfsame Holy Spirit, with mariachis accompanying her work, we had 16 baptisms, confirmations, and receptions. Many of the candidates had know Padre Santos all their lives. I blessed their Bibles, candles, and rosaries, anointed couples on their anniversaries, and prayed for healing and wholeness for those facing difficulty.
For four hours, all our worship and most conversation was in Spanish. Daily study and the patience of conversation partners will never make me fluent, but they’ve made me capable of non-anxious presence, praying and preaching as well as everyday chats. Posing for individual photos with at least 30 moms, I got a long way saying to their spouses and children, “¡Espero que entiendan que ella es la reina hoy, en realidad toda la semana!” I asked several moms if they celebrated the day on May 10, as in Mexico, or according to the U.S. tradition. “Ambos,” they said with a smile. “Both.” Samtos’ tech-savvy daughter Demaris formatted the photos as she took them (offering each mom the choice of a do-over) and sent them to the printer so folks could take them home.
Lunch afterward was a magnificent feast of carne asada, grilled chicken, and seasoned pork with four choices of sauce, salsa fresca, and homemake tortillas and guacamole. A longtime member named Daniel told me that they had been working on the food until two on Sunday. I asked Daniel how he knew. “I was painting,” he said. Painting what? “Everything,” he said.
While Padre Santos insisted on serving as my chaplain, the senior warden, Epifanio Oriuela, helped with many details, as did Santos’ gracious spouse, Angelina. I met a longtime buddy, now their houseguest, with whom he went to seminary in Mexico and a family member who is discerning a call to church leadership. So much life, joy, and possibility in one place! At 6909 Rugby Ave. in Huntington Park, the spirit of risen Christ is fully manifest at Iglesia Episcopal (Anglicana) Una Santa, Catolica, y Apostolica Mision San Clemente de Roma. Alleluia!