AVONDALE, Pa. (CBS) – Cardinal Justin Rigali this afternoon was overseeing the dedication of a new church building, specifically for Spanish-speaking Catholics, in southern Chester County.

The new church already has 12,000 members, according to Msgr. Frank Depman, who for the last 20 years has been darting among five different churches spread over 20 miles to hold masses and other religious ceremonies — in Spanish — for the area’s burgeoning population of Mexican farm laborers and other Spanish-speakers.

The dedication of St. Rocco Church in Avondale is the realization of a dream, he says.

“We’ll start having the community masses at the church this Saturday and Sunday, and this weekend we have 13 masses already scheduled,” he tells KYW Newsradio.  “So it’ll get a lot of use right away.”

(Loeb:)  “I guess people have been waiting for this to have their event.

(Depman:)  “Right.  We have weddings, quincineras, and baptisms.”

The construction of St. Rocco’s was made possible by a large donation from Rocco Abbessinio, a Glen Mills, Pa. lender who made his fortune in subprime credit cards. He also helped design the Spanish-style church, which was furnished with pews from other churches that have closed in the past few years.

It’s the first Hispanic “national” church in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, joining 25 other national churches for Italians, Koreans, and other ethnic groups.

“Father Frank,” as Depman is known, says the community is thrilled.

“Oh, everybody’s overjoyed — everybody’s very happy, excited,” he said today.

Reported by Pat Loeb, KYW Newsradio 1060

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