The Hispanic Ministry in Antigua began officially with the wedding of two Hispanic couples. One of these couples was Jose and Yolanda Polo who were wed on the 14th of December 1989 and they remain active in the community today. The main celebrant for this event was the Most Rev. Bishop Donald Reece.

Bishop D. Reece & Fr. Kevin O’Toole
Thanks to Bishop’s Reece ability in speaking Spanish the first community Mass in Spanish was celebrated on the 24th of December 1989. It is important to remember that at that time, as still today in 2015, Hispanics from Santo Domingo represented the largest migrant group on the island, approximately 8,000. That fact is one of the reason why Hispanic ministry was begun.

Fr. Bernard Latus, S.V.D.

At the beginning of 1990 Fr. Kevin O’Toole S.V.D., was collaborating with Bishop Reece in this ministry. Around the same time Fr. Bernard Latus, S.V.D., also began to work with the Hispanics, doing a lot of home visiting especially in the Grays Farm – Donovans’ areas and in the Point.

Bishop Donald Reece remained very interested and supportive of the Hispanic Catholic community until he was named Archbishop of Kingston in 2008 and moved to Jamaica to carry out this new responsibility.

Sr. Margaret Hanssen, SSpS
The Late Fr.Gerry Mellert, S.V.D.

In these years different priests and religious collaborated. These included Sr. Margaret Hanssen, SSpS who accompanied the community from 2000 to 2005. Fr.Gerry Mellert, S.V.D. was here at that time as well.

Bishop Reece asked Sr. Miryan to coordinate the Hispanic ministry for the diocese and from time to time she went to other parishes in the diocese for short periods to animate Hispanic Communities.

Sr.Miryan Cespedes, SSpS

While Sr. Miryan was here she had a Saturday morning call-in radio program and on Saturday evenings a pastoral program on the Catholic radio station.

Fr. Robert Ratajczak, S.V.D.
Fr. Robert Ratajczak, S.V.D. came to collaborate with the Hispanic ministry in Antigua in 2009 and was named diocesan coordinator of the ministry. He continues with this responsibility today. Sr. Miryan returned to mission in Paraguay in 2011. Fr. Tony Jeroncic, S.V.D., and Sr. Margaret Anne Norris, SSps. assist in pastoral aspects when asked.

Bp. Kenneth Richards, who became bishop in Antigua in 2012, has been interested in and supportive of the Hispanic Catholic community.

Over the years the pastoral ministry has grown to include a catechetical program, sacramental preparation for children and for adults, a regular faith-sharing group, a choir, a central coordinating committee, evangelization efforts and outreaches to the poor.