With a message of cultural and racial harmony, Cardinal Pedro Barreto, S.J., archbishop of Huancayo, Peru, spoke about the prayerful example of St. Martin de Porres, the Peruvian lay brother who is the patron saint of mixed-race people.
Cardinal Barreto was the principal celebrant and homilist during the annual St. Martin de Porres Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral July 28.
“After Jesus was in profound prayer, praying to the Father, his disciples requested, “Lord, teach us how to pray,’” the cardinal said during the afternoon liturgy.
St. Martin de Porres established a similar connection with God through deep, prayerful dialogue, Cardinal Barreto said.
“Through this celebration of the Eucharist today, we honor St. Martin de Porres,” said Cardinal Barreto, noting the saint knew firsthand the experiences of discrimination based on his dark skin. The cardinal went on to speak of how social injustice brings societal problems and conflicts, such as injustice based on social status and political affiliation.
“This all causes divisions,” the cardinal said. “The Lord wants to unite all of us in humanity as one family through His love, through all the cultural and social diversities that we live…St. Martin de Porres, through prayer, was profoundly united with God…This was the light of the testimony of St. Martin de Porres.”
Cardinal Barreto concluded by asking God to bless Peru. “With profound faith, we pray to God for unity in our homeland…Happiness is found, Jesus tells us, more in giving than in receiving.” He also spoke of the importance of praying for the intercession of St. Martin de Porres, St. Rose of Lima and St. Mary Queen of Peace.
About 1,200 people attended the Mass, including six Peruvian-born readers of the Prayer of the Faithful.
The gathering was also a celebration of the 198th anniversary of Peru’s independence from Spain on July 28, 1821. Lead organizers included the staff of the consul of Peru in New York, Marita Landaveri, who at the end of the Mass expressed her gratitude to Cardinal Dolan, the cathedral and all who helped make the celebration possible. The liturgy was also coordinated by New York chapters of the Lord of Miracles (Señor de los Milagros), a Peruvian Catholic organization, and the archdiocesan Office of Hispanic Ministry.
St. Martin de Porres Velázquez, O.P., a native of Lima, Peru, was born in 1579 as the out-of-wedlock son of a Spanish conquistador and a freed slave from Panama, of African and possibly Native American descent.
He was a lay brother of the Dominican Order. He was beatified in 1837 by Pope Gregory XVI and canonized in 1962 by Pope John XXIII. St. Martin de Porres is the patron saint of mixed-race people, barbers, innkeepers, public health workers and all those seeking racial harmony. His feast day is Nov. 3.
“St. Martin de Porres helped all of us in Peru to understand the importance of humility, service to others, love for others, and charity,” said Jose Luis Rodriguez, a parishioner of St. Paul the Apostle in Manhattan, in an interview with CNY. He was one of those who delivered the Prayer of the Faithful.
Carolina Beteta, a parishioner of Sacred Heart of Jesus parish in Manhattan, also delivered the Prayer of the Faithful. “This was super important because we’re celebrating the day of the independence of Peru from Spain…The cardinal spoke very well on the importance of seeking cultural and racial harmony, and the examples of St. Martin de Porres; this was an honor for us.”
Father Lorenzo Ato, director of communications for archdiocesan Hispanic Ministry, was a lead organizer of the Mass. Father Ato, who is Peruvian-born, is pastor of St. Brigid-St. Emeric parish in Manhattan. He was among the concelebrants, along with Msgr. Robert Ritchie, rector of the cathedral.