Miami, FL: St. Simeon's Catholic Church has an international set of parishioners: Cuban, Haitian, Mexican, Jamaican, Brazilian. They used to say there were two things that drew them together: Jesus and soccer.
Now, there are three things; or really, a combination of the first two: a vuvuzela is now used for the call to prayer.
"It started when our old carillon broke," offered the church's pastor, Fr. Manuel Martinez. "We had a lightning storm and the carillon was struck, breaking two of the bells. We can't afford to replace it, so we thought, do we just go silent?"
"Then one day I was watching CNN cover a Jewish call to prayer, with a shofar and everything, and I thought...dang, that sounds like a vuvuzela. We've got a ton of those left over from the World Cup. This could work!"
Sr. Marielos Garcia said that she initially grieved the loss of the bells. "They were so beautiful," she said. "But, the second Vatican Council called us to get back to our original charisms...and this does sound like a ram's horn...I like to think of it as a very, very, very loud reference to our Jewish roots as a Church."
The parish youth have embraced this change enthusiastically, agreeing to get to Mass 15 minutes early to "sound the vuvuzelas" for 10 minutes, the same amount of time the bells were chimed. "In fact, we have them lining up an hour ahead. They really feel like they're a part of the community now. But we have to make sure they don't sound them more than twice a month, because these horns will blow their eardrums out," he said cheerfully.
Local homeowners are not so enthused. The first time, a group ran into the street, expecting a soccer game, only to be disappointed that it was the Holy Mass. Others called in to the archbishop's office, asking the church to "in the name of all that is good and holy, love your neighbors and take a vow of silence already." Fr. Martinez acknowledged some resistance, but says he thinks that the impending door to door campaign offering free earplugs will help smooth things over.