ROYAL PALM BEACH, Fla. — Our Lady Queen of the Apostles Roman Catholic Church in Royal Palm Beach held a mass for Cuba on Thursday morning to show support for the island nation. Among them was Blanca Gonzalez, who left the island with her two sons more than 50 years ago.
"I left because I didn't want my children to be raised under a communist regime," Gonzalez said in Spanish.
She has not been back to Cuba since.
"I still love my country and it hurts what Cubans are going through right now," Gonzalez said in Spanish.
Dozens of people from different nationalities sang songs and prayed in solidarity. Members of the congregation said all the demonstrations and protests are demands for freedom in Cuba.
During the mass, a recent audio message from the Bishop of Santiago de Cuba, a province in the southeastern region of the island, was played from last Sunday, which moved many of the members of the congregation.
"I was very touched," Mario Garcia, a Cuban American who attended the mass, said. "Very good sermon. He was talking, basically, 'Let us be free and don't hurt each other. Be brothers.' That is the message. That is not easy to do in a communist country."
On the island, the Catholic Church defended the right of its people to protest on the streets and prayed for the violence to stop.
In a video posted by the church Cofradía de la Caridad del Cobre, the archbishop of Santiago de Cuba, Dionisio García, said, "Our country needs changes. Changes that will give hope to our people and gain confidence."
"I believe with these masses help the faith to keep what they are doing in Cuba right now," said Enrique A. Sobrino, in charge of the Spanish Ministry at Our Lady Queen of the Apostles Roman Catholic Church.
For Gonzalez, she hopes for freedom for her Cuba and a miracle.
"Something needs to happen," Gonzalez said. "A being so illuminating like him (God) needs to come to our country to help liberate all of the Cubans."