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York Daily Record

Many Roots To This American Meal: Pastor Hortensia Pol Takes The Thanksgiving Holiday To Heart


November 29, 2002
Copyright © 2002 York Daily Record. All rights reserved. 

Jose Pol had not expected this.

When the minister of the First Spanish United Methodist Church invited friends for a Thanksgiving Eve service and meal, he figured a handful of people would show up.

Much to his surprise, about 40 people representing seven different countries came to the West Philadelphia Street church to give thanks Wednesday.

This was not the first year that Pol had held a similar dinner. Since 1996, he's held the dinner at his South Sherman Street home as a way to celebrate he and his friends being American.

This year, the number of friends attending the dinner grew too large, and Pol moved it to the church.

"This is the most important celebration for the year for me," Pol said.

Pol came to the United States from Cuba. He stepped off a plane two days before Thanksgiving in 1980.

Just before his departure, Pol had converted to Christianity. That first Thanksgiving for him, he said, "was really the first celebration I had."

Religious celebrations, including Christmas, weren't permitted in Cuba until after the Pope's visit in 1998.

"It was very important to get to the United States," Pol said, "to express my religious beliefs with liberty."

He spent 10 years in Mexico as a missionary. During that time, he met and married his wife, Hortensia. Their son, Jose Jr., was born there a decade ago.

Today, Pol is the pastor of a church that has services Sunday afternoons at the Otterbein United Methodist Church.

At the service prior to the meal, people from the Dominican Republic, Mexico, El Salvador, Cuba, Ecuador, Peru, and Puerto Rico came before the group and offered testimonials on coming to America.

The meal itself was a mixture of cultures. There were turkeys, cranberry sauce, corn and potatoes along with beans, rice and tortillas. One family, who owns a pizza shop in Red Lion, even provided pizza and stromboli.

But was it enough to feed the multitudes?

"It was plenty," Pol said.

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