Fast breaking news sometimes separates us. Something dramatic happens and a part of our population is upset. That same event may be a source of encouragement to another segment of citizenry. In view of that, I was delighted to see an article in the paper the other day that I think is encouraging for everyone in our society. I will tell you what it is.
Research in the world of academia has just revealed that Latino young people in this country are now the largest minority group on U.S. college campuses. This research was done by the Pew Hispanic Report. It was just released.
The research shows that more than 2 million Hispanics between 18 and 24 were currently enrolled in colleges last year making up a record 16.5% share of enrollments in that age group at two year and four year universities. Terrific!
We are all conscious of the rapid growth of the Hispanic population in this country and many of us have been praying for improved high school completion rates so that these young people could go on to colleges and universities. It is happening – it is happening!
With an ever-increasing percentage in colleges and universities, it means that the earning ability, the stability and the ability to contribute to the larger society will be greatly enhanced. When more young Hispanics are seeing their older brothers, sisters, uncles, friends going on to college and they see that this is an accomplishment that they can achieve if they work hard themselves and take advantage of the programs that are out there.
Last year, 76% of Hispanics in the country between 18 and 24 years of age had a high school diploma. This represents a surge of 6% in only one year. Regretfully, that is still below the national average of 85% and still below the African American average of 81%. However, it is movement in the right direction and it is MOVING!
Everyone who wants to see our country make progress needs to be delighted about this. That includes government, educators, churches, families and the students themselves.
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Human nature seeks role models. This has always been true and the Church was conscious of this from its very earliest days where the tradition of honoring spectacularly good people being elevated to what we call sanctity. That means that their lives were so obviously holy that it is inconceivable that they would not be with God. Then we try, to a certain extent, walk in their footsteps.
Did you know that there was a young black man who was canonized in 1964 and is today the patron of black youth? His name is St. Charles Lwanga who was a young prince in Uganda and was put to death on June 3, 1886 and canonized by Paul VI in 1964. My guess is that St. Charles will be moved to one side of center stage when we get a young African boy or girl from Chicago, New York or Montgomery, Alabama canonized. However, until then, Charles is a great example for young people everywhere.
It takes courage to live a good life. It takes even more courage to freely give up your life for your faith in Jesus Christ. St. Charles Lwanga had that courage. Life for many young blacks in the United States continues to be very difficult. They need all the help that can be mustered and the Church, although it is doing much, needs to do more.
Let’s pray to St. Charles to help our young generations mature and blossom in faith and courage.
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