.- This Sunday hundreds of Cubans participated in an emotional Mass to mark the re-inauguration of the Hermitage of the Immaculate, Cuba's oldest functioning church, in Havana's Guanabacoa district.
The small church was originally the chapel of an old cemetery in the Cuban capital and was dedicated in 1641 to Mary Immaculate with church approval even though the dogma of the Immaculate Conception would not be proclaimed until 200 years later.
The chapel had fallen into disuse after the Communist revolution and was on the verge of collapse until the Church was able to secure authorization from the government as well as obtain a significant donation from the German charititable organization Adveniat.
This Sunday, December 12, Monsignor Ramon Suarez Polcari, Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Havana, celebrated Mass at the chapel with hundreds of attending.
Referring to the restoration of the chapel, Msgr. Suarez stated, "Our thanks goes to the generous Catholic community in Germany," and he clarified that the restoration took place "without any official government support."
During his homily Msgr. Polcari also pointed out that "the greatest sin is to separate oneself from God, to do things as if we were gods on our own."
He also called on Catholic Cubans "to feel pride in belonging to the Church." "This is the Church of which we take pride in being her children which we glory in as children of God, full of patience and hope, capable of doing great things, like Mary did in her submission to God," he concluded.