Hispanic Church

I was reading last night a short history of the Hispanic experience in the American Catholic Church.  One thing struck me.  The Hispanic way of being Catholic is very different that the Euro-American way of being Catholic.  Hispanic Catholicism took root in medieval Spain, before the Council of Trent, whereas the Euro-American Catholic experience formed via the effects of Trent.  The author of the article commented that Hispanic Catholicism, then, is a popular faith passed on my grandmothers and moms, is deeply rooted and communicated orally within the family, is convincing but not necessarily rational and emphasizes miracles, healing, the transcendent and a personal relationship with God.  This is in contrast to the Euro-American experience which emphasized Liturgy, sacrament, rational expression, a patriarchical system, and religious commitment measured by regular reception of the Sacraments.   As the number of Hispanic Catholics increase here locally, and nationally, perhaps we need to keep this in mind as we minister to and accept them into our parishes.

About Deacon Bob

Moderator: Deacon Bob Yerhot of the Diocese of Winona, Minnesota.
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4 Responses to Hispanic Church

  1. John Yerhot says:

    I’m curious how parishes in Texas, Arizona, California, etc… have looked the this issue – have the Hispanic/Euro Catholic cultures blended, or remained distinct?

  2. admin says:

    Good question. All I can say is my own experience here and some brief exposure to the Catholic Church in Arkansas. In both of these situations, I don’t think one could say the cultures have blended, but rather they worship in the same church building, but have separate Liturgies in their own languages and own cultural music, etc. In Arkansas, for example, the diocese of Little Rock has fielded 50 men as candidates for the Diaconate, about half of which are Hispanic. This class will have parallel training programs, one for the English speaking men and one for the Spanish speakers. They will meet together occasionally. Here locally, our bishop is strongly encouraging priests and deacons to learn Spanish and familiarize themselves with the Hispanic culture. If you are interested in further reading of the history of the Hispanic Church in the USA, read: “The Struggle for Rights,”, pp. 61-87 in On the Move: A History of the Hispanic Church in the US, by Moises Sandoval.

  3. Mary Yerhot says:

    With all the maternal influence of the Hispanic
    church do you see an increased participation of women in the Hispanic Church and increased sense of ownership and pride in the church?

  4. admin says:

    I think that Hispanic women are very involved in the Church now and have been in the past. From what little contact I have had with Hispanic families, it has been the women that are central to the religious experience of the family. It seems in some sense that the Virgin Mary is very central also to the Hispanic religious practice, more so than most Anglo-Catholic spirituality. So I suspect the maternal influence in the Church will continue.

    Whether that translates into an increased sense of ownership and pride is unknown to me. If they acculturate quickly (as many think they will), I suspect an increase of ownership and pride may occur if the current culture patterns continue. On the other hand, if they largely retain their Hispanic identities, then I suspect they will continue to follow their cultural expectations of women, which allow for a more patriarchical system of governance and leadership. Women will retain their pre-eminence in the circle of the small communities and families.

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