After more than a year of preparation, Latin Portuguese Ministry of Southeast Florida has launched a regular schedule of worship in Portuguese. The fledgling Lusophone (Portuguese-speaking) congregation at St. Nicholas is believed to be the first Episcopal Portuguese language ministry in the United States.
"From the time I came to this diocese, I have felt the need to respond to God's call to serve the large Brazilian population in our midst," said Southeast Florida Bishop Leo Frade. "The reality is that the largest Brazilian population in the U.S. resides in our diocese -- in fact, the three towns in the United States with the largest populations of Brazilians are in the Pompano Beach area of Broward County."
Frade had been bishop of Southeast Florida for less than a year when he called for the offering at the "First Step" diocesan visioning conference in April 2001 to be dedicated to the development of ministry with Brazilians in the area.
But it was not until last summer that this ministry began to take shape, when Frade welcomed to the diocese the Rev. Jose de Jesus Sanchez and his wife, Glenda. A former Roman Catholic priest from Mexico, Sanchez was involved in missionary work in Brazil and is fluent in Portuguese. Sanchez is currently in the process of being received as an Episcopal priest; while he completes this process he is licensed to preach and perform all the functions of a lay pastor.
For the past year the Sanchezes, who became U.S. citizens last month, have been getting to know the Portuguese-speaking community in Southeast Florida, visiting with families and participating in Brazilian community events.
Now, with the support and assistance of the Rev. Tim Thomas, rector of St. Nicholas, and his congregation, Portuguese-language ministry in the diocese is formally launched. Sunday Eucharists in Portuguese are at 1 and 7 p.m., with weekday services Tuesday through Friday at 7 p.m. There is also a Saturday 7 p.m. service in Spanish.
"Jose and Glenda are wonderful people who have made connections with Brazilian groups throughout Broward and Miami-Dade counties," Thomas said. "Our vestry and congregation are thrilled to have them with us to lead this exciting new ministry."
Further information -- in English or Portuguese -- about Latin Portuguese Ministry of Southeast Florida, is available here.