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City Pulse: Celebrate local churches, even if you don't attend

By JR Ortega
July 31, 2013 at 2:31 a.m.

Christal Martinez, 7, holds a toy fishing rod high while playing a game during the Jamaica event held by Our Lady of Sorrows at the Victoria Community Center in 2011. The annual event is from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. It begins  with Mass, then Jamaica follows. For more information, call the Our Lady of Sorrows' Rectory at 361-575-2293.

IF YOU GO

Our Lady of Sorrows' Annual Jamaica

• WHAT: A day of food, entertainment, children's games and activities, live auction, raffle and barbecue dinner

• WHEN: 9:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday. Starts with Mass, then Jamaica follows.

• WHERE: Victoria Community Center, 2905 E. North St.

• INFO: For more information, call the Our Lady of Sorrows' Rectory at 361-575-2293.

Jamaica. Huh-My-Ka.

This all-too-strange name may be familiar for some, but many others probably don't know much about them. If you want to know more about it, maybe you should join Our Lady of Sorrows' annual Jamaica at the Victoria Community Center on Sunday.

To be honest, I did not know much about jamaicas until about three years ago, when I attended one at my partner's family's church back home.

Those who know me well know I was raised Catholic but don't practice often, if even at all. Even then, I had such a great appreciation for what my partner's church back home did.

The festivity is full of games, music, entertainment, worship and social mingling. Many may view it as a "church thing," something that doesn't involve you, but it does.

Catholic churches host their jamaicas so they can become more invested in their community and vice-versa.

My first one back home in Mission, in the Rio Grande Valley, showed me so much about what so many of the church members do for their community.

They're mothers, sons, fathers, friends, bankers, restaurant owners - our neighbors.

It's a moment of great celebration and excellent homemade foods - and I do mean EXCELLENT.

Perhaps I didn't feel out of place because of my Catholic roots, but I really think it's because they made me feel part of the celebration, practicing Catholic or not.

Plus, what I find most fascinating about these jamaicas is what they do; they support the church and its endeavors to continue not only serving God but serving the community. Though many may not be invested into a religion, we need to realize these churches to provide for the community as a whole, not just their church members.

Jamaicas help them fund programs for youth - our future - which I find invaluable.

While at my jamaica back home, I ate - a lot. I had tacos, horchata - a milky, sweet rice refreshment - and I even did a cake walk, which was tons of fun.

Of course, there was a live auction, raffles and tons of entertainment, just as there will be at Our Lady of Sorrow's jamaica.

So if you're looking for something new to do this weekend, why not join Sunday?

I encourage you to set aside any differences or opinions you may have and give a little of yourself; after all, you're the community.

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