Monday, November 17, 2008

"We Are One Body"

Across Long Island's 1.5 million-member diocese of Rockville Centre, prayers and Masses were offered yesterday for Marcelo Lucero -- an Ecuadorean immigrant beaten and stabbed to death last week by seven teenagers who, according to law enforcement, specifically sought a Hispanic target.
Inside St. Francis De Sales Church yesterday, where more than 400 people flocked to hear Sunday Mass celebrated in Marcelo Lucero's name, his brother, Joselo, sat alone in a front pew, a single red rose in his hand.

Stoic for much of the Patchogue service, he broke into tears when a hometown friend, Luis Luna, embraced him.

Minutes later during the greeting of peace, dozens of parishioners then surged toward Joselo and his sister Catalina Lucero to offer their condolences, handshakes and hugs.

While the sting of his death is too fresh for Catalina Lucero to find peace, she said the warmth of the people and the meaning of the Scripture brought her some solace.

"Christ went through the same thing," said Lucero, 40. "He was punished and killed for an unjust reason."

Since Lucero was fatally stabbed nine days ago, Latinos have turned out in force to denounce what police are calling a hate crime. During yesterday's Mass, celebrated in Spanish by auxiliary Bishop Peter Libasci... the theme was unity.

After he quipped that he was but a "little bishop," getting a laugh from the otherwise stoic congregants, Libasci conveyed a message about diversity from Bishop William Murphy: "We have to grow with the community in everything, in whatever culture and whatever language. We are one body."...

Before the Mass concluded, Joselo Lucero approached the pulpit and stood before the people who packed the pews and filled the aisles. He urged listeners to make time for their families despite their work obligations.

"My brother left a message, a legacy in this country, one of unity and appreciation," said Joselo. "We have to cherish our loved ones, because you never know when they will go."
In Lucero's hometown in Ecuador, a memorial Mass was held yesterday outside the home he built for his mother, to which he was planning to return permanently in the near future.

Now, the dry cleaner's wake will be held there later this week.