Two parishes in one church

OK, so it’s not officially 2 parishes in one church, but many say it’s like that. The parish church of my youth is now comprised of an English speaking community and a Spanish speaking community with separate parish councils, schools of religion, liturgical teams, etc. Most of the long established leaders in this church have now left their parish because the current priest has been catering to the needs, desires and whims of the Spanish speaking community. I understand the need for the Church to be open to immigrant cultures, but I am not seeing a blending of cultures. Instead I see formerly anglo parishes splitting up and becoming hispanic parishes. How can these painful splits be prevented? (I have placed this in the Liturgy and Sacraments category thinking that language/culture and liturgy might have a connection. If not, this thread can be moved to a more suitable category.)

Splitting the parish like you say should be the model of what NOT to do. Here is my personal opinion. WHEN IN ROME DO WHAT THE ROMANS DO. I understand the need for immigrants to maintain cultural identitiy. HOWEVER the inculturation should be of the immigrant…not the place they are immigrating to. Welcoming “strangers amoung us” should not mean alienating “those who are born here” or worse accusing people of being predjudice because they won’t globally adapt their lives to the culture of a newcomer. My brother used to work in brigde beam making factory. When Mexican immigrants showed up on the scene at the factory the company decided that they were going to REQUIRE the “resident” workforce to take spanish so they could communicate with their new co-workers. WHat easier? Teaching 15 undeducated mexican immigrants English so they can use it at work AND out in the world OR Teaching 125 mostly low educated factory workers a Language that only can be used primarily at work?

A mission church in the next town over officially belongs to our parish. I know they have a Spanish and an English mass every Sunday but I’ve never bothered to find out who runs what over there. I do agree that keeping the cultures separated is definitely not the way to go.

When our company requested a list of supervisory employees who needed to learn Spanish, our branch sent back a list of workers who needed to learn English. We received no response. :smiley: Our local workaround was to use one of the bilingual workers as an interpreter. Most of our Hispanics understood enough English that we seldom had to resort to this, though.

this is becoming common up north where I come from. if the demographics of the neighborhood change, over time the composition of the parish population will change. that has always been true particularly in big cities. The established parish community by definition must care for the pastoral needs of all those within the boundaries. The scenario you describe is one way this has been attempted.

In the heyday of immigration of many Catholic ethnic groups from Europe big cities established ethnic parishes, because these populations demanded priests from their own culture and language, so in a city like Cleveland you had Catholic parishes that were Italian, Slovenian, Polish, Lithuanian etc., and in the same territory, the older Irish or German parish that became the “generic” one. Over time as these populations moved to the suburbs, so did some of the parishes, or they merged, changed identity, or even closed.

the dual parishes arise because the number of those in the new group, usually Hispanic, but sometimes Vietnamese, Korean or other new arrivals who bring their Catholic faith and customs with them, has grown large enough to need their own parish, their own Mass, RE etc., but can’t build their own church. It is one way the bishops have addressed the situation.

There is a lot of debate on whether it is the best way. The debate has always been there, and will always be with us as long as we are a universal, multi-ethnic multi-cultural church.

But the mentality of “my granddaddy built this church and I want the Mass, RE, school and other programs to remain exactly as I remember from my childhood, and if THOSE people want to move in here they can just build their own church” is antiethical to the concept of parish and also hardly Christian.

If we are supposed to evangelize and bring in new people to the church, and to welcome Catholics who come from elsewhere, the fortress mentality is hardly the way to do it.

obviously the situation here has been somewhat different. Most Catholic parishes have been historically Mexican, and had to decide how to integrate first Anglos (who usually built their own parishes), and now must integrate growing numbers of Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese and other Catholics. There is a lot of debate on whether parishes, Masses, RE, programs etc. should be bilingual, or whether parallel masses & programs are better.

In answer to OP the way to meet the needs of all Catholics is with a Pastoral mentality, not with a circle the wagons and shoot strangers mentality.

since I see the thread has already been hijacked to a “Mexicans in the workplace” rant, I will also add a further historical note. Catholic parishes played a huge role in inculturating new immigrants, teaching English classes, job training, and other ways. They also played a huge role in honoring and helping preserve cultural and ethnic customs. Both have value, both are necessary in meeting needs, but the primary purpose of the parish is to celebrate Mass and the sacraments, confect the Eucharist, evangelize, catechize and give pastoral care to all Catholics in their boundaries, and to evangelize non-Catholics and the unchurched.

Nobody is “ranting” or “hijacking,” merely point out that some of the same problems exist in both the Church and the workplace, your unkind remark notwithstanding.

I should add that I am an American of partial Mexican descent. One set of grandparents came here from Mexico. My relatives from Mexico labored hard and with appreciation for th opportunity to establish their families here. They understood that this was America and that english is the common language. They learned english, studied US Govt for their citizenship tests, labored for their pay, paid taxes, and voted in all elections. They retained their culture largely in their families and leisure activities. But when it came to church and education, they worshiped as one with all others without expecting cultural accomodations and sent their kids to the Catholic schools like any other parent. (Latin was also the language of worship at that time.)

this may also be a generational thing. I am commenting as an outsider, I have only lived here for a few years, but I do see a difference in families of Mexican descent who have been here for generations, and possibly because of factors in the larger culture (education systems etc) they prefer to speak and worship and have their children educated only in English. Others prefer to function in English in daily life and the workplace, but are more comfortably worshipping and praying in Spanish.

New arrivals feel lost – and are usually lost to the Church – if they do not find a place right away where they can worship and participate fully in parish life in their own language, and with those who share their customs. The children here, with the exception of a few school districts are mainstreamed into English speaking classrooms, so the parents are eager to learn English and help their children do so.

However, it is very difficult for a child who is coping with that challenge all week in school to try and wrap his mind around learning English when he is supposed to be learning doctrine and hearing the Word of God.

In the long run parishes are far more likely to find that new arrivals become fully participating parishioners, educate their children in the faith and bring them to the sacraments, if their pastoral needs are considered when they first approach the Church.

Whoa there nelly!!! The workplace example was used to illustrate the way inculturation may be wrong. Forgive me if i am wrong but it seems to be an issue of interest for you.

Again inculturation does not mean changing the enviornment to adapt to the newcomer…it means introducing the newcomer to the enviornment so THEY can make the necessary changes to adapt to their new home.

Yes, this is seen everywhere. I saw this 13 years ago and said to the parish council that we cannot allow two stand- alone communities to develop, It happened anyway. I also saw where the original parish community refused to become involved in any Hispanic functions. They would have a dinner /dance and no one from the anglo community ever came to them. The Bishops must direct Pastors and Pastors must follow through. By starting to combine things, by saying we had an English Rosary on Tuesday evenings and a Hispanic Rosary on Thursday evening. Now we have a single Rosary on Tuesday evenings and it is in both Spanish and English or in Latin and every one can learn it in Latin. The children all go to public schools and are required (here) to speak and learn English. They can all be in the same Faith Formation class that is not a problem for the children. They can learn Spanish and Hispanic customs at home.

All programs provided are funded by the parish budget, but only about 10% or less of the funds are contributed by the Hispanic community who require the use of extra parish resources.

Oh the best thing I have heard all day. I am not spanish speaking and god bad grades in English Grammar. One thing though is I always pray the rosary in Latin and it is BEUUUUUTIFUL. It just the wording just flows of my tongue. It is almost surreal

to clarify my response to OP, in the several northern dioceses where we formerly resided, several parishes do in fact function canonically as dual parishes using one building and parish plant. Example: St. James, the existing parish in an aging rust-belt city, continues to function as the “Anglo” parish (actually historically Polish and Slovak), but Blessed Sacrament parish (mostly Mexican, several other C. and So. American countries represented in congregation) functions side by side. Each has its own separate parish council, funds, budget, finance commission, Mass and confession schedule, RE, DRE etc. One pastor who is assisted from time to time by visiting Hispanic priests, nuns or deacons. He hopes soon to have assigned a Spanish-speaking deacon. The rule, rather than the exception, in that diocese is one pastor responsible for several parishes, so that part is not unique.

Just curious, what do you mean by “northern” dioceses?

I woke up this morning to yet another day of 10 degrees below zero. This rust belt must be someplace else because it is too cold for anything around here to rust.

But then again Rust belt to me sounds like the idustrial regions like Milwaukee, detroit and the likes. Which do of course get as cold as it does here in upper midwest.

I understand that Canon Law indicates that a Pastor of a parish (geographical area) is responsible for ALL the Christians (at least Catholics) in that parish. So it should not matter if they are Anglo, Hispanic, Russian or Martian, they are all his Spiritual responsibility as the Parish Pastor.

I draw the line at Martian Masses. They bring the wrong atmosphere into the church (mainly carbon dioxide).

anyplace where children regularly get snow days off from school (poor DD has been home with hers, neighbors and relatives kids for 3 days).

thank you, this is an often overlooked fact. in dioceses that establish parishes with ethnic membership, rather than territorial, that pastor may be considered responsible for all members of that ethnic group in the territory covered. But where there is no parish established by the bishop to serve members of an ethnic group, the pastor of the territorial parish MUST provide pastoral care to ALL CAtholics living within his boundaries.

This makes me feel even more lucky for my parish. Each weekend we have 3 English Masses and 3 Spanish. We’re blessed with a pastor who is bi-lingual. Some of the staff in the office are bi-lingual. I don’t think our liturgy director is bi-lingual, and I notice that the Spanish Masses have an entirely different group of musicians.

I have not been here long, but I don’t “feel” the division at our church that you describe. The folks I see at Adoration, for example, are a good 50/50 split that follows the lines of the parish makeup (we also have a fair African-American and Asian-American community).

This month, the church is starting free english classes. I think that’s great for all involved. Lots of us around here say we really should learn Spanish, too.

My area is a little different, maybe. Frankly, the Spanish and Mexicans were here before us. They ran successful ranches and built many of the cities to the south of Houston. Maybe that takes away a little of the “us and them” feeling.

I live in an area that is perdominately Hispanic. I attend two churches, one an hour away, the other 15 minutes. I perfer the one further away, but sometimes it’s hard to get four children ready on Sunday morning, so we end up at the closer one.

There is only one English mass a week and the make up of the church is probably 98% Hispanic. The church is not “split”, unless you call being split 100 to 2. The church is basically all geared toward the Hispanic community. All of the prayer groups, outreach programs, everything is conducted in Spanish. There is no room for English only speaking parishoners.

This was the church that I was baptized in, and I like the priest. He is filled with the Holy Spirit. I give money to this church primarily because it is such a poor parish, and it is the one we go to most often, but as far as being involved in the parish community, forget it. I do speak Spanish, it’s hard not to when you grow up where I did, but I don’t speak well enough to engage in conversation with native speakers, they just speak to fast for me to keep up with.

I agree that it is wrong to not want people of other cultures to come in and be members of the parish community, and we should all do our best to make everyone feel welcome. But it goes both ways. If I moved to Mexico, would everyone I come in contact with on a daily basis be required to speak English? The key to assimalation into any country is to learn the language. It is the key to success for any immigrant.

The Catholic Church should do more to help the immigrants learn English, so that they can then educate themselves, get better paying jobs, and hopefully make a better life for their children. This is how the melting pot has done it’s magic in the past. I think that is something we have all forgotten.

Great Idea!

SInce the Catholic church includes you as part of it, when are you going to get started helping the immigrants learn English?

When you say “the Catholic Church should do more” you are basically saying I should do more.

The church is made up of people and of which you are one of.

As I am not literate in the Spanish language, I would not be qualified to teach the English language to Spanish only speakers. I would be glad, however, to help fund any parish programs where capable teachers would be utilized for the purpose. I am sure you understand that one must have certain qualifications before one can be put to a task such as this.

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