Rockford Parish Hosts Mobile Mexican Consulate
By Margarita Mendoza, El Observador Editor
August 1, 2019
ROCKFORD—Some prayer items made in Rockford were distributed during the July 17-21 visit of the Mexican Mobile Consulate to St. Bernadette Parish on the west side.
The consulate visit is “to help our neighbors get their paperwork in order,” said Kevin Rilott, director of religious education (DRE) at the parish.
“We are blessed,” he added, “to hand out thousands of rosaries, pictures of Jesus, and pamphlets on the Catholic faith” to people who come to the consulate visit. 
Meanwhile, Javier Aguilar Morales, consul in charge of the Mexican “Consulate on Wheels,” explained that it is “a (service) of the consulate that moves to different locations in Illinois and part of Indiana, to issue documentation to the Mexican community.”
St. Bernadette’s rosary project
More than 180 thousand rosaries made at St. Bernadette Parish  have been shared in Rockford, the U.S., and the world.
The St. Bernadette rosary project began at St. Patrick Parish in Rockford when Pat Stroup was director of religious education there.
She wanted to give mothers who were waiting for religious education students something to do.
“So they all began making rosaries,” said Kevin Rilott, St. Bernadette DRE and parishioner since 1973.
Stroup brought the rosary project with her when she came to be a volunteer at St. Bernadette Parish.
“After starting  it at St. Patrick, she continued with that task at St. Bernadette. They have sent (rosaries) to missions, to the Philippines and many other places. She was recognized as Woman of the Year at St. Benardette” said Father Ricardo Hernández, parochial vicar at the parish.
Some other Rockford parishes also make rosaries to give away.
He added that they issue “primarily passports. Consular registration cards are processed, as well as the voter registration card, birth certificates.” At the visit, people can also start the process of becoming Mexican citizens.
Likewise, they have “people from the Department of Protection who provide information on migration issues.”
While at St. Bernadette, the consulate received hundreds of people, especially Mexicans, in “a period of two and a half hours, the first day.” They had “90 appointments previously booked by telephone or through the Internet.” 
On the other days of the visit, they saw “an average of 130 people,” said Aguilar. 
They made a few exceptions to requiring an appointment to help people who arrived at the last minute with proven emergencies or who were elderly.
The mobile consulate is important for those who need documentation. Most of them, because of distance or other reasons, don’t want to go to the main consulate in Chicago. 
Some people arrived hours before it was open to the public. Marlen García, parishioner of St. Monica in Carpentersville, was the first person in line. She arrived at the St. Bernadette Parish Center at 8 a.m., despite having her appointment at noon.
While people were waiting for their appointments or after they were attended to by consular officials, they could go to different tables in the room to learn about community services, including educational or legal information. 
They also had the option of stopping at the parish hospitality table, which offered free coffee, water, religious stamps, prayers, and rosaries. (See box at upper left)
“It’s very nice. They give them (religious items) for free,” said Adriana Muñoz, a parishioner of St. Mary in Woodstock. “They have books to help you pray the rosary.” 
Rufina Dueñas, also from St. Mary in Woodstock, said she “liked the rosary very much.” She was also struck by the image of Jesus of the Divine Mercy and said, “I’m going to put it in a frame in my house.”
Eva Adami of SS. Peter and Paul in Rockford said the religious articles were “very beautiful.” She took a rosary, “and the printed prayer of the rosary to learn how to pray it.”
Luz María Pinedo, a parishioner at St. Patrick in Rockford, is a volunteer for the consulate event. She said that she organizes “the premises, the furniture, what we are going to offer to eat to those who come from the consulate.” She is also on duty looking for anything they may need, to guarantee a successful event.
Also among the many volunteers involved during the four days of consular services was Jim Samorian from St. Bernadette. 
“I’m a member of the Knights of Columbus here, very active with the Knights,” he said, adding he was there to provide “services for people, whether they are parishioners or not.” 
“We just like to be the host for the event,” said Moe Siemek, an usher at weekend Masses.
 “I was here last year and I’m here again this year,” Siemek added. “We do not ask if they are Catholic. We are here to help them out. They are very appreciative of all these (religious items). And they take them.” 
“We try to help anybody with any questions they have,” said James Cook. “We donate anything we have here (on the parish table) that they can take home with them. Every year we do it.”
Father Ricardo Hernández, parochial vicar said the consulate visit was “excellent.”