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The Sound of Tejano Music Attracts Spectators Who Joined the Jamaica Recetnly at St. Francis Catholic Church in the Heart of Wes Texas

By Frances Gonzalez



On this particular weekend, it was as though the old church bell could be heard inviting the community as it did in the past every Sunday for the English and Spanish services, yet on this occasion the invitation was for excitement, eating and dancing. Known to be the oldest Catholic Church in town, according to the 100th Anniversary Celebration booklet, St. Francis of Assisi was first directed in 1918 by Rev. Father Rudolph A. Gerkin. The church which is located in the Barrio, one of Abilene’s Hispanic’s neighborhoods, held a Jamaica last month where there was originally a building that was used at one time for the religious children’s and youth classes. The Jamaica is a yearly fundraiser that attracts many spectators that pass along Treadway St. {{more}} The sound of Cumbia music got dancers on the concrete slab and it became a fun place for many people.The accordion was one of the instruments that could be heard from a member of “The Five Texans” from Abilene, which were one of the Tejano bands that played. A couple, Alex and Cora Hernandez who are church members seemed to have enjoyed themselves and looked like newlyweds on the dance floor. Back in the younger days they used to go to dances a lot. Alex is a former Pastoral Council member and helps the deacons in church services whenever needed. He even used to own a “66 Red Mustang. He was the winner of a laptop computer from a raffle that took place at the Jamaica. Cora also teaches Sunday school. The young and the old gathered to experience some clean fun choosing from the variety of booths as volunteers sold every kind of food from hamburgers, cokes, french fries to funnel cakes. Picnic tables were available for those that wanted to look on. A Alex & Cora Hernandez. Photo by Frances Gonzalezticket booth sold tickets for a dollar and they were used for all the other booths. Twin sisters and members Mary Murillo and Esther Cisneros were in charge of the funnel cake booth. They have been very helpful volunteering in the kitchen serving breakfast, at times, in the church hall. Some of the most popular dishes served are “menudo” and tamales for some special occasions. Other games available were the jump castle for the children, and the cake walk. One lucky young man won a chocolate cake on the first try one night. St. Francis church has not only been through renovations over the years, but the priests who have come and go have helped the church grow spirituality and enrichment. Generations of families have continued to attend services, and stayed involved. Rev. Father Maximum Fernandez recently transferred from Ft. Stockton to officiate the church, and was welcomed by the parish a few weeks ago. Religious Formation coordinator and Deacon Mark Main has been a church member since 1998. After retiring from the Air Force, Main, who is originally from Colorado, settled in Abilene with his wife Jeri, who is also a Sunday school third grade teacher. He stresses that his job is really a calling. “I enjoy everything about it. It is a calling. I received a sacrament of holy Orders on June 5, 2010 to become an ordained Deacon. My number one ministry is teaching and passing on the faith. I am here to heal the broken hearted and listen to people with problems, and visit the sick in the hospital.” He said. The funds raised from the Jamaica contribute to help expand the church and in other areas where needed, such as the ministries. According to Main, some of the positive changes over the years have been the new rectory center, an increase in the Jamaica grounds, and new stained windows. Some of the funds might also be going towards an upcoming men’s retreat called a Cursisitas that many members are looking forward to attending. The Jamaica raises money for a good cause and it brings joy and happiness to many people each year, and is also a non-alcoholic free event. As the last night of the celebration brought the festivities to an end, the music faded, the community once again left their memories and spiritual presence after having greatly contributed to a good cause.

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