Scholar and Mom Behind Sunday Sermons
Heffern, Rich, National Catholic Reporter
They came because of a deep hunger for the word of God, They assembled in the brand new Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the high plains of southwestern Kansas in Dodge City for a workshop on the Gospel of Mark presented by Patricia Datchuk Sanchez and her husband, Rafael.
The 100 or so workshop attendees--lay leaders, sisters and priests--had driven in from the parishes and missions of the diocese to meet and hear someone whose familiar voice on the printed page had graced and informed their homilies and ministries for more than two decades.
Patricia Sanchez, whose commentaries on the Sunday readings have been recognized as one of the most cogent and pastorally sensitive resources available to homilists, rarely travels from her home in Hattiesburg, Miss. The invitation to come to Dodge City was enhanced in both directions by the opportunity to offer a bilingual program. Rafael Sanchez is chair of the foreign language department at the University of Southern Mississippi.
His parallel presentation in Spanish of his wife's talk, "Unwrapping the Gift of Mark's Gospel, Unraveling the Mystery of Jesus," was planned for those who serve the large Hispanic population drawn to western Kansas by jobs in the meatpacking plants. The presentation in Spanish was particularly well received in Dodge City. A church official told NCR that the influx of Spanish-speakers to this Midwestern diocese had reached such a point that one of their priests who is Vietnamese had just been sent to Mexico to improve his language skills so he could minister to the Hispanic population.
The workshop was marked by a palpable spirit of joy at the presence of the Sanchezes and the opportunity to gather in the newly dedicated Dodge City cathedral, which claims the distinction of being the first cathedral consecrated in the United States in the new millennium.
Patricia Datchuk Sanchez, scripture scholar, mother of four, and writer of homilies and scripture commentaries, has deep credentials rooted in her personal history and broad academic formation.
Sanchez comes from a military family. Growing up, she lived in Oregon, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Maine. Some of her earliest memories are of assisting Japanese burn victims of World War II when her father was part of the Allied occupation force there. …