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Why she goes to church

Hannah Covington Published: July 22, 2013
The intricately detailed altar rises above the priest as a mass service is given at the Little Flower church on July 22, 2013.
The intricately detailed altar rises above the priest as a mass service is given at the Little Flower church on July 22, 2013.

She warned her husband of what to expect once they were married.

Angelica Wright, 27, is Mexican. Her husband, Michael Wright, 28, is Caucasian.

“I told him, ‘You know, a big part of this is coming to church, and whether you like it or not, you should know that we’re coming,’” Wright said.

For decades, her Catholic roots have eddied around Little Flower Church. The Oklahoma City native has gone there since she was a young girl.

When she turned 15, she began teaching Catholic doctrine classes at the church.

She now works as a secretary and assistant to Pastor Raúl Reyes, calling herself “Father’s helper.”

Her husband also serves in the church.

“Ask Father Reyes. I volunteer him for everything whether he knows it or not,” she said, laughing.

Founded in 1921, Little Flower is a predominately Hispanic parish at 1125 S. Walker, located just minutes from downtown.

Ask the Latino community in the area about the church, and they’ll call the religious edifice a touchstone of culture and community. A place to pray the rosary and be a family.

“If you go to any Hispanic house, they either have a statue of the Virgin or a crucifix somewhere in their house. That’s a staple. That’s how you know you’ve been to a Latino house,” Wright said.

Weekly pilgrimages to mass and a homemade meal afterward serve as family ritual. It’s a time to check up on the relatives forged by blood and marriage. And to connect with the people who may as well be family.

Growing up, Wright remembers older church members asking about her father and siblings by name. She swears they must have known every one of Little Flower’s more than 1,600 registered families.

Mass on Sunday attracts about 4,000 worshipers.

The majority of the congregation has immigrated to the United States from Mexico’s Aguascalientes region, about 300 miles north of Mexico City.

This area is about 93 percent Catholic, according to The National Institute of Statistics and Geography in Mexico.

When families journey to the United States, they bring their rich faith with them.

Wright’s parents are both from Mexico. They met in youth group at Little Flower and were eventually married in the church’s sanctuary.

When it was time for her own wedding, the choice of venue was easy to make.

The church is a source of both spiritual and practical help for its parishioners, Wright said.

Each Wednesday, Little Flower holds a free health clinic. The church also offers members seeking citizenship periodic help with filling out the necessary papers.

“Nothing feels better than helping out people in your community go through rough times and celebrating with them during good times,” Wright said. “That’s the great blessing of growing up in a close-knit culture like this.”

BY HANNAH COVINGTON

MORE INFORMATION

What: Little Flower Church

Where: 1125 S Walker

Masses offered every day in both Spanish and English. For specific mass times, call (405) 235-2037