Father Luis Olivares, a Biography: Faith Politics and the Origins of the Sanctuary Movement in Los Angeles

By Mario T. García | Go to book overview

SEVEN
Community Priest

Fr. Luis Olivares entered the home of potential UNO members, as well as some who already had made a commitment to UNO. This was one of many house meetings that the Claretian priest participated in, including some he himself hosted. Everyone welcomed him warmly, for they knew him already as the charismatic pastor of Our Lady of Solitude (Nuestra Señora de la Soledad). The meeting was to discuss issues that UNO might take on, especially at the federation level. This would involve all parish units of the new organization and would have to be one that they could all rally around. It also had to be a winnable issue. But what issue?

“How about the conditions in the schools?” someone contributed.

“We need assistance to upgrade our homes and the banks are reluctant to help us,” another chimed in.

“But I think an issue that we all face is the high car insurance rates that we’re paying here in East L.A.,” still another added.

“Insurance rates?” “Yeah, we’re being screwed on this,” others called out as their level of anger rose. “We’re paying way too much. We can’t afford it which is why some of us don’t have insurance.”

Olivares realized they’d found their first issue. He reported this back to Ernie Cortes, who told the pastor that he and other UNO members were getting the same reaction in their meetings. High car-insurance rates seemed to be a major concern for many East L.A. residents. But was it a winnable issue?1

Whether it was or not, the important thing was that it was coming from the people. This was how it was supposed to work. UNO leaders were not supposed to propose what they believed to be the key community issues. This was neither authentic nor organic. It had to come from the people themselves. Only in this way would they support it and work for it. “What are the pressures on your family?” Cortes asked at a house meeting.2 High

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Father Luis Olivares, a Biography: Faith Politics and the Origins of the Sanctuary Movement in Los Angeles
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Figures ix
  • Prologue 1
  • Introduction 5
  • One - San Antonio 31
  • Two - Seminary 56
  • Three - Priesthood 86
  • Four - Company Man 124
  • Five - Conversion 154
  • Six - Organizing the Barrio 181
  • Seven - Community Priest 207
  • Eight - Preparing Sanctuary 248
  • Nine - Declaring Sanctuary 307
  • Ten - Expanding Sanctuary 343
  • Eleven - The Good Pastor 390
  • Twelve - ¡presente! 445
  • Epilogue 498
  • Acknowledgments 501
  • Notes 503
  • Bibliography 539
  • Index 545
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