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Jessie Alejandro is the first Hispanic priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania.
Jessie Alejandro is the first Hispanic priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania.

SEPTA, the transportation that unites the community and the church

Reverend Yesenia "Jessie" Alejandro tells us how SEPTA has become the transportation of choice for parishioners at The Church of the Crucifixion.

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When parishioners ask Reverend Yesenia "Jessie" Alejandro about how to get to The Church of the Crucifixion, her answer is always the same: SEPTA and Bus 47!

SEPTA is the transportation par excellence used by parishioners to reach The Church of the Crucifixion, located on Bainbridge Street in South Philadelphia. Most of the parishioners are part of the Latino community who come from different parts of Philadelphia. Some come to listen to the priestess' sermon, others to receive their pantry every week, and others to sit and talk with Jessie about what ails them. 

"SEPTA is very important to our community because it brings us together as Latinos. The 47 bus is the bus that many of the Latino people know. For us in the church, the bus has been of greater importance," the reverend confessed to AL DIA. 

When Jesse migrated from Puerto Rico to Philadelphia in 1991, she didn't know how to use public transportation to get around the city. So she asked her aunt, who had lived in the city for some time, how she got around the city and surrounding areas.  

"You're going to get on the bus and it's going to take you to the center of the city," her aunt replied. 

Since then, Jessie began using SEPTA's transportation to run her daily errands and get to know the city. 

About Reverend Jessie Alejandro

Jessie Alejandro is the first Hispanic priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania. Since coming to Church of the Crucifixion, she has excelled at offering bilingual sermons and using Latin American music to bring the word of God. 

"We are always united by two things: the rhythm of the music and the food. When we unite in these two aspects, I think something more beautiful is born. If I have to give the Eucharist dancing, I do it because it is something intimate and it is something that one wants to express so much that you cannot contain," said Jessie. 

When asked by AL DIA about the importance of the representation of women in the church, the reverend assured that she has gained the trust of the parishioners as a priestess, especially with the girls and women who come to the church. The girls want to follow in her footsteps while the adult women feel more understood and listened to by having a priestess. 

"It's a nice thing for the girls and women to feel that we are representing them as Latina women and that they can also get to where they feel God is calling them. When the women come in, sometimes they are even surprised and tell me, 'well, I can call the mother or I can tell the mother because she will understand me'." 

In addition to being a reverend and a priestess, Jessie is also known as "the mother of the people". This nickname was given to her by parishioners and community members. 

Jessie was born and raised in the town of Barranquitas, Puerto Rico. She is currently working on a new initiative called "pop-up churches". This project will start in mid-September with the intention of reaching more people and communities while the Church of the Crucifixion undergoes a remodeling process. 

According to her, most of the parishioners will reach the pop-up churches through SEPTA transportation. 

"For me and for the people who come to the church, the bus has been very important to get here and get what they need," concluded Reverend Jessie. 

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