Norristown, Pa. (WTXF) - They came on short notice, Thursday evening-- more than 200 strong-- after urging their pastor at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Norristown to organize a special mass on behalf of earthquake victims in Mexico and hurricane victims in Puerto Rico.
"Unbelievable," said Puerto Rican immigrant Cruz Fuentes. "I have a brother over there, I have family members, aunts, uncles, cousins and still no communication with them."
These parishioners are far away from family and friends back home. But by coming together, Mexican immigrants and Puerto Rican immigrants gain strength from each other, even if they pass it on to love ones in pain.
"We find it in our heart," said Pilar Gomez, a Mexican immigrant. "It's time to be together as one."
"Father Gus" Puleo is the shepherd to this flock. In a sermon delivered entirely in Spanish we heard the word "porque" repeatedly. Why? As in, why did God let tragedy strike our loved ones? There are no easy answers but Father Guss says we are figuring it out together.
"The Mexicans are praying for the Puerto Ricans and the Puerto Ricans pray for the Mexicans," the pastor explained to FOX 29's Bruce Gordon. "So I just say we are all brothers and sisters under Christ."
There must be a feeling of helplessness when natural disaster strikes so far away. But with heads bowed and hands clasped this immigrant community holds together.
Says Mexican immigrant Miguel Sigala: "It's the only thing I can do right now. Pray for our family and all the people that are there."
Then there was the more earthly effort; a special collection-- money to be sent to victims in two battered nations. The collection baskets were filled to overflowing.
Father Gus doesn't sugarcoat it his parish is poor, very poor.
Gordon asked Puleo incredulously, "So these people who have so little...?"
"Give so much. It's incredible isn't it?"