SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU)—Thursday will mark the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month. Many events are being held to celebrate the culture and traditions.

The church plays an important role in the lives of those of Hispanic heritage, and many gathered in Scranton Saturday evening to give thanks and honor Hispanic heritage in our community.

Welcome to a celebration of pageantry, praise, and prayer at St. Peter’s Cathedral in Scranton. This mass is held to mark National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Northeastern and central Pennsylvania is home to many people of Hispanic origin who make churches throughout the Diocese of Scranton their house of worship.

“When we speak about Hispanic heritage so much of the life of the Hispanic community is rooted in faith. You really can’t separate the two,” said Bishop Joseph Bambera from the Diocese of Scranton.

The mass celebrated in Spanish honors the history, culture, and contributions of those in the diocese whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

“This day reminds us of the presence of so many old and new immigrants like our diocese was founded upon immigrants from 100 years ago, is not something new, is not something novel, but is very simply a part of the church,” Bishop Bambera told Eyewitness News.

Hispanic worshipers from Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Hazleton, and East Stroudsburg make up a sizable proportion of parishioners in the diocese, and the Hispanic population is growing in Meshoppen and Great Bend where masses are now being celebrated in Spanish monthly.

“You know we all come from different countries,” said Rufino Cano from Scranton. “You are going to see more people than last year. That means the word is spreading, the gospel is spreading, all over the corners of the diocese.”

The 11-county diocese embraces greater diversity to worship as one.

“For me, it means togetherness and actually to unite everyone say we are one race. We are not white, we are not blue, not green, none of that. We are just one human being and one of a kind,” said Ana Perez.

The celebration continued after mass with ethnic foods and music, representing the Hispanic cultures in our region.

Those gathered this day expressed gratitude for the opportunity to honor their rich traditions and culture, and worship in a new place they call home.

“What it means to us is the unity that we have to have as a community of faith. We are the same under the eyes of god and that is the way we should treat each other. We are a community of faith and as a community of faith we have to be the ones who give the example of how to treat each other.”

Eyewitness News will mark Hispanic Heritage month with a special program in October.