History of Hispanic Texas and Southwest and its impact subject of discussion at St. Mary’s

Photo: Veronica Markland | Today’s Catholic

“Latino Catholicism: San Antonio and the Transformation of the U.S. Church” an evening of questions and conversation, was held at St. Mary’s University on Oct. 17.

During the 1960s and 1970s, growing civil rights and labor activism in Hispanic communities across the United States sparked a national movement in Latino pastoral ministry and theology. Many San Antonio Catholics became social and cultural activists, innovative theologians and pastors, and even institution-builders on behalf of the poor, neglected and excluded Mexican-American majority. Their work helped spark a movement that united Hispanic Catholics across the U.S.

The recent passing of former San Antonio Archbishop Patricio Flores, who was the first Mexican American to become a bishop of the Catholic church in the United States, and the Father Virgilio Elizondo (B.S. ‘57), who was an influential scholar, author and spiritual innovator, and founder of the Mexican American Cultural Center, offered an appropriate moment to reflect on the rise of an extraordinary movement today referred to as Latino Catholicism.

Speakers at the event included Father David Garcia and Timothy Matovina, Ph.D.

Father Garcia, a Notre Dame alumnus, is director of the Old Spanish Missions of the archdiocese and senior adviser for Clergy Outreach for Catholic Relief Services. A priest since 1975, he served as rector of San Fernando Cathedral from 1995 to 2008.

Matovina is chair of the Theology Department at the University of Notre Dame. His most recent book is Latino Catholicism: Transformation in America’s Largest Church, and his current book in progress is Engaging in a New World: Theologies of Guadalupe From the Era of Conquest to Pope Francis.

Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, was in attendance at the event, as was Thomas Mengler, president of St. Mary’s University.

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