Maria Léon prays as she listens to simultaneous translation at St. Alice Parish in Springfield in 2017. The parish is using technology to promote unity. (Ed Langlois/Catholic Sentinel)
Maria Léon prays as she listens to simultaneous translation at St. Alice Parish in Springfield in 2017. The parish is using technology to promote unity. (Ed Langlois/Catholic Sentinel)
Regarding “Bilingual Masses: Impracticable or catalysts of unity and evangelization?” Oct. 2, Page 11:

A great article. When Father David Jaspers came to St. Alice here in Springfield he asked me to become the pastoral council chairman. When he and I met, we came to a joint decision that the biggest potential problem we had was the danger of becoming two parishes in one building, divided among Spanish- and English-speakers. We felt nobody wanted that.

For about a year the first item on our agenda was unity. We asked how we were doing and what we could do better. Sometimes, other than prayer, it was the only thing we talked about. Eventually, we went to all bilingual Masses for both Holy Days and Christmas and Easter. My recollection is that in a parish of about 1,000 for weekend Masses we had one couple who complained.

When Father Mark Bentz came to St. Alice, he found the simultaneous translation app Interactio. We had translators in the parish and so took it to another level.

One result of becoming one parish instead of two was that a few years ago, when our Hispanic coordinator retired, we didn’t replace her because of how integrated our parish had become. That is why we could afford to hire a bilingual communications director/electronic evangelism director. Most of our staff are bilingual.

It’s really fascinating to me how it’s all worked out and we never would have done it without the leadership of two young priests.

Mike Whitney

Springfield