Spirit of season echoes through parish | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Spirit of season echoes through parish

Dan Thrift/Tahoe TribuneThe Rev. Oscar Gomez addresses a packed church at St. Theresa Catholic Church during the Christmas Day services.

As the sunlight streamed through the vibrant stained-glass windows and worshipers packed the pews, South Lake Tahoe received a dose of warmth at St. Theresa Catholic Church on a cold Christmas Day.

Between the angelic sounds of its Bell and Children’s choirs, the Rev. Oscar Gomez shared with the parishioners at noon Wednesday the spirit of the holiday in all its glory.

“Today is a big day. It’s one of the most important days in our lives. Christmas Day is when we reflect how God became man and how he showed us the path to salvation,” said Gomez, in his fifth month on the job at the South Shore church from Mexico. Gomez studied in San Antonio.

In a calming baritone, Gomez reflected on the celebrated birth date of Jesus Christ and combined a need for faith, trust, hope and love with modern-day concerns.

He acknowledged problems that plague couples and families in what he described as the ease of “getting lost in life.” He continued with a prayer for the people of a turbulent world where there’s “much need for renewal and peace.”

A lineup from the standing-room-only crowd gathered around Gomez at the conclusion of the service to express their approval of the message.

“This is the best service I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been coming for 30 years. You could just feel the spirit in the church,” said Susan Ishii, crying and hugging her daughter, Jeni Galvan.

Galvan’s return to church after a brief absence pleased her mother.

Ishii attends every week. For the Christmas Day Mass, she noticed quite a few out-of-towners.

“I felt so proud of our little church,” she said.

Jon Myer of Berkeley, who traditionally attends Mass on Christmas, was particularly moved by the 10 a.m. service.

“I don’t usually get a chance to go to church. But Christmas is more about faith than just a social convention. We tend to get caught up in shopping,” he said, watching his 3-year-old son scurry down the hallway.

“He’s my big joy,” the proud father said, scooping up George in his arms.

Myer agreed it’s easy to get lost in the everyday doldrums and lose sight of the reason for the season, but it’s not that way for Myer.

“Generally, I think it’s a lot easier to remain focused on what the holiday is all about,” he said, as the boy flashed a big grin.

— Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at swood@tahoedailytribune.com

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