Friends News

First Hispanic Worship Service: HOLA

by Corinne Twigg - Office of Marketing | Dec 03, 2015
On Nov. 8, the University of Valley Forge (UVF) launched its first Hispanic worship service. Over 50 people congregated in Mason Chapel for the purpose of worshipping God among a multicultural Hispanic community of believers. The event was referred to as HOLA, meaning “Hour of Latin Awakening.”
The event went beyond providing a cultural worship experience for all students. It also set out to embrace the Hispanic community within Phoenixville. Event coordinators Joseph Ocasio, Office of Admissions director, and Carlos Rivera, admissions counselor, saw the potential of the event. Ocasio said, “It’s not just about the university; it’s about the impact of the university on the community.”
With great hopes to promote future HOLA events, Ocasio communicated HOLA’s dream of providing a place for Hispanics in Phoenixville to connect with the UVF community. In this outlet, students will be given the opportunity to minister to Hispanics in Phoenixville who search for a place to belong. They will also act to encourage the Hispanic community to see the academic programs available to them at diverse institutions such as UVF.  
Following an inspiring worship service led by a group of passionate students, a few guests from the community were welcomed to speak. Nina Guzman ’12, a Latina outreach director, commended those in attendance for coming out to the HOLA event. Her position as an advocate for Latino intercultural communication within the broader community allows her to promote collaboration among Phoenixville community leaders. She works to provide services for immigrants in the community. Guzman expressed her gratitude for HOLA and her plan to recommend future HOLA events to those in the community.
Melenis Velez, a sophomore studying social work, was the student coordinator for the event. She also led the worship team. Her enthusiasm for the vision of future HOLA events is in accord with the collective student body at large. "HOLA is not just a Spanish ministry," said Velez. "It's a ministry where all types of people can come and experience the Spirit of God in a different way, as a unified body of Christ."
Jonathon Robles ’14, lead pastor of Evangel Assembly of God in Norristown, also spoke at the event. He invited all in attendance to to visit his church. Later, Ocasio brought an encouraging message based on Colossians 1:28. As he challenged students to finish the race set before them at UVF, he also invited them to walk with their brothers and sisters and help them finish their own races. “We do not strive toward perfection individually; we can’t do it on our own,” said Ocasio. He encouraged those in attendance to stay connected outside of the HOLA events and to say, "Hola!" when they see each other on campus.