By JOANNE FOX
Listeners of Catholic radio, Channel 88.1FM – KFHC (Ponca, Sioux City) and KOIA (Storm Lake) – may recite the rosary along with Bishop Walker Nickless, weekdays at 7 a.m.
To reach out to the Latino population in Northwest Iowa, Southeast South Dakota and Northeast Nebraska, Siouxland – Catholic radio has initiated the recitation of the rosary in Spanish, weeknights at 8:30 p.m.
The new program will first be aired the week of Dec. 3, but it had been in the works for months before then, according to John Fitzsimmons, president of the board of St. Gabriel Communications, which oversees the operation of the station.
“It was a discussion the board had been having about how to reach out to the strong Hispanic presence we have in this area and encourage them to listen,” he said.
The challenge the board faced was how to engage the Spanish-speaking population, Fitzsimmons explained.
“All the board members are Anglos, so our knowledge of the Latino culture is almost non-existence,” he said. “We weren’t sure what they would prefer to hear or what format or topics.”
The solution came from a conversation with Father Jeremy Wind, parochial vicar at Cathedral of the Epiphany Parish, Sioux City, who celebrates Mass monthly at the radio station’s chapel and speaks Spanish.
Father Wind admitted his “Midwestern Hispanic” accent might not be appreciated by the Latino population if he were to recite the rosary in Spanish. Instead, he recommended Father Mauro Sanchez, parochial vicar at Cathedral, who grew up in Mexico and is fluent in Spanish and English.
“I was happy to help out,” Father Sanchez said. “Practically anyone with a Latino heritage has devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary and the rosary would be at the top of the list.”
The priest also noted it was another way to unite Catholics of different cultures, but with the same aspirations in their faith lives – to be closer to God and to his Blessed Mother.
Father Sanchez was able to line up some volunteer rosary reciters and the prayer was taped. Music and an introduction and conclusion were added to the production.
The addition of the Spanish rosary joins other KFHC/KOIA local programming – the daily Chaplet of Divine Mercy, Joanne Fox’s Keep the Faith show, and sports coverage, Fitzsimmons pointed out.
“Our mission is to communicate the Good News to all our listeners, be it through our local programming or the outstanding national and international coverage of EWTN,” he said. “This is just one more way we are seeking to build up the sense of community we believe is so important to our faith, no matter what our heritage.”
The Diocese of Sioux City already has a connection to the Latino culture as its co-patroness is Our Lady of Guadalupe, who is also the patroness of Mexico and the Americas. The Virgin Mary, in her appearance to St. Juan Diego in 1531, is one of the most popular Marian devotions in Mexico, which has spread to the U.S. and churches in the diocese.
There are nine diocesan churches which offer the Mass in Spanish: St. Rose of Lima, Denison; St. Patrick Church, Estherville; Holy Trinity Parish, Fort Dodge; St. Mary Church, Hawarden; All Saints Parish, Le Mars; St. Mary Church, Rock Valley; St. Patrick Church, Sheldon; St. Mary Church, Storm Lake and Cathedral of the Epiphany, Sioux City.
Sponsors are being sought for the Hispanic rosary. For more details, contact Program Director Ann Colt at (712) 224-5342 or email@example.com.
For those outside the radio signal, you can listen live at fhcradio.com.