God Bless America every Race

Part of MECHA’s presidential obligations
Sonja’s Ballet Folklorico Days

Having completed all relevant  courses at the Orange Diocese, I am now authorized to ministry under the covering of the Catholic Church. My last class, Pastoral Formation, helps develop attitudes and skills that pertain to effective ministry. The class is intended to train the student on how to handle matters that involve different races, cultures and ethnicities and the differences on how people deal with situations. We all believe in the same God within the Catholic church, but people from Italy do not think the same as people from Mexico. We covered many subjects, but when it came to culture and heritage, my mind was flooded with the memories of raising two Mexican-American kids in Orange County.

When Mikos and Sonja (our children) were growing up, I did my very best to see that they stayed true to their Mexican culture. When after-school Spanish classes were offered in elementary school, I signed them up. They both complained about the instructor, and the only thing that they remembered about the experience was the title of the book “Churros y Chocolate.” I tried speaking to them in Spanish at home, but that too was ignored.

When Sonja wanted tap and ballet classes with her little non-Hispanic friends, I signed her up for Ballet Folklorico. I had to drive clear across town for her lessons, which didn’t matter because she was going to  be grafted into her “Mexican culture.” Sonja complained about the shoes, the extra wide skirt, and the fact that none of her friends were taking the same lessons. Sonja’s experience was more traumatic than enjoyable, and after the only recital, Sonja hung up her dancing shoes for a while.

Mikos did not escape the culture wrath either. That boy was going to marry a Mexican if it was the last thing that he was going to do.

The “Ciriza” Porsche

When we moved to Orange, our neighborhood was mostly white, we had two personalized license plates, of which were “FAMILIA” on my Volvo station wagon and “CIRIZA” on Mike’s Porsche. When we lived in the San Fernando Valley, this personalized license plate thing was no big deal, but in Orange County it was.

The demographics of a mostly white school changed the direction of my plans for my children. I still had a little of that “Chicano Power” residue from my MECHA  days (MECHA was to Mexicans what the  Black Panther to the Blacks). I felt that in some way, I was melting into the Orange County stew. The more I tried to mold my kids, the more rebellion set in. “You are going to marry a Mexican!” were my words of love and direction…so I foolishly believed.

At that time in my life, I had left the Catholic church and was vacillating from Calvary Chapel, to Calvary Church, to The Vineyard and a host of other Christian churches. God must have gotten a good laugh at all the mindless efforts to keep culture alive in the “Familia Ciriza.”

Our beautiful Jenny
Our handsome Russ

Both Mikos and Sonja married out of our race. It was not to spite me, but rather because they fell in love. It was never my responsibility to choose their mates; this was just another ridiculous episode of a mother meddling into the path the God had already planned.

Mikos and Sonja both married Minnesotans, and every other Christmas, they return to their families and every summer they are in Minnesota. Thursday I pick up Sonja and her family from LAX  and on Friday I take Mikos’s family to the airport; guess where they are going and coming from…Minnesota.

Genesis 2:18      Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

God Bless all Americans of every cultural background that love this country as I do!

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