Living the Faith: Teresa Naranjo

ROXBURY -- Teresa Naranjo loves to bring people together.

As a member of the Spanish-language community at Mission Church, Naranjo is the director of the Spanish-language Charismatic Renewal program, a position she feels allows her to bridge the cultural divide that she feels occurs all-too often in parishes. One year ago, Naranjo and the director of the English-language Charismatic program decided to meet for a bilingual prayer group.

“The result was wonderful,” she recalled. “We enjoyed it so much that we now meet once a month to unite the different cultures that make up our parish.”

“I try to translate as much as I can,” explained the Costa Rican native. “Then, when it’s time to pray and share, we all do it in our native tongue.”

“Everyone loves it,” she added.

In addition to her involvement in the Charismatic Renewal group, Naranjo, 67, is also a religious education teacher and currently runs the Protecting God’s Children program for the Hispanic community. She is also an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion and brings Communion to the elderly and the homebound of her parish.

Most recently, Naranjo has begun to participate in the Comunidad de Base, a new program brought to the parish by Father John Lavin, CSSR, parochial vicar at Mission Church.

“We go into people’s homes to pray with them,” she explained. “When someone invites us to come and pray with them, we go and share the following week’s Bible readings, sing songs and share our faith.”

“Some people have returned to Church because of it,” said Naranjo. “It’s beautiful.”

Naranjo emigrated from San Jose, Costa Rica, 40 years ago, when she was 27. A widow with two young children at the time, she found in Mission Church a place where she felt welcomed and loved. It was through her parish that she met and married her second husband, Pascual Naranjo, with whom she had three more children.

“The community of Mission Church has been a blessing in my life and in the lives of my family,” the mother of 5 said. “I absolutely love it here.”

Naranjo believes part of what makes Mission Church so special are the Redemptorist priests that have served in the parish throughout the years.

“I feel blessed by the Lord because we have so many priests and they are all so wonderful,” she said. “We definitely reap the rewards of having so many priests living among us.”

A cradle Catholic, Naranjo credits her mother for passing onto her the importance of her faith.

“Before she passed away, I thanked my mother and told her that her greatest gift to me was my faith,” she said. “She was my role model.”

Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Mission Church), Roxbury

Year Established -- 1868

Pastor -- Father Raymond Collins, CSSR

Parochial Vicars -- Father Philip Dabney, CSSR; Father John P. Furey, CSSR; Father John Lavin, CSSR; Father Robert Lennon, CSSR;

In residence -- Father Thomas G. Sullivan, Father Philip A. Cabasino, Father John Hennessey, Father Sean McGillicuddy

Religious Education Director -- Joan Nelson

Music Director -- Glenn Goda

Elementary School Principal -- Maura Bradley