Roman Catholicism and the American Way of Life

By Thomas T. McAvoy | Go to book overview

GILBERT A. CARROLL*


III. The Latin-American Catholic Immigrant

I propose not to propound social theories but to tell a story. My story starts with a picture of the Puerto Rican in Chicago in 1955. Before World War II the number of Puerto Ricans in Chicago was negligible. After the war a great many migrated to Chicago. I say "migrated" because these people are not immigrants. They come from the Island of Puerto Rico which is a Commonwealth of the United States. They are citizens even as you and I. Legally speaking a Puerto Rican moving to Chicago is no different than a New Yorker moving to South Bend. No visa, no passport is necessary.

But to get back to my story. After the war a large number of Puerto Ricans came to Chicago. In 1955 there were perhaps twenty- five thousand. The cry went up. "Let's do something for the Puerto Rican." This implied that nothing was being done for them in Chicago, which was not true. There were (and are) three Mexican parishes in Chicago where they could hear Spanish sermons, confess in Spanish, etc. Other parishes provided some services in Spanish. The C.Y.O. took an early interest in them, and the Catholic Charities put on a Spanish speaking staff and provided social welfare services. Others helped in other ways. However many felt that the Diocese should have a coordinated program in this area. So, in September of 1955, under the late Cardinal Stritch, the Cardinal's Committee for the Spanish Speaking was formed. Under the leadership of Msgr. Edward M. Burke, Chancellor of the Archdiocese, a group was brought together representing parishes, agencies, and organizations of the Archdiocese. Its purpose was to coordinate the activities of these

____________________
*
Father Gilbert A. Carroll is coordinator of the Cardinal's Committee for the Spanish Speaking of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

-164-

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