Posts tagged: Hispanics

Making Sense Out Of Texas

By , December 5, 2013 5:17 am

God bless Mr. Fehrenbach!

Over the years I have had many opportunities to meet people who had recently moved to Texas from other parts of the United States. They are not here very long before they become quizzical because Texas seems to them to be such a strange state and its state government seems to be especially strange.

I have advised dozens of these new friends on how to get a grip on the reality of Texas from just one book. I then go on to say that if they would like to deepen their understanding of Texas, then they should read a second book. But you shouldn’t overwork friends when they are just getting started.

The book that I recommend is always “Lone Star: A History of Texas and Texans.” The author was T.R. Fehrenbach, a man who was born and raised in South Texas and died last week.

Mr. Fehrenbach does an amazing job of describing the historical forces that swirled into, around and over Texas from the 1600’s until today. He explains, to the extent that it can be explained, the Texas mindset with its hostility to almost all authority and a buoyant self-confidence that makes Texans laughed at and the butt of jokes across the world. Texas is unique. Its history is different from any one of the other 49 states. It resources are almost limitless but not always utilized very effectively.

With the Native Americans out of the picture, the two remaining groups, Hispanics and Anglos, would, from 1836 until today, experience tense and sometimes violent relationships. Those from the south of the border held that not only had Texas been stolen from them, but the entire southwestern portion of the United States.

The Mexican American War only added to the hostility that marked this relationship into modern times.

Today Texas is experiencing a dramatic demographic change. All of us ought to observe that loosely, analyze it and endeavor to walk into the future with the best possible understanding of the environment, economic and social structures in which we are living.

After that we have to take a look at Mexico.

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The Catholic Campaign for Human Development – Under Attack Again!

By , July 25, 2013 5:05 am

I don’t know as to whether or not it is the case that they never seem to stop or because their attacks go on for so long it looks like there is no interval. I am, of course, referring to the right-wing Catholics bitter opposition to one of the best things that the American bishops have ever done together and that is that they established and have operated for more than 40 years the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.
The 1960’s were very difficult years for the United States. The Vietnamese War was raging, the central part of many American cities were facing riots and burnings. All of this was due to the fact that that the impoverished cities of the core cities, mostly black but also some Hispanics, had no way to get the attention of the American nation that they were suffering and suffering terribly. When flames ripped up the heart of Los Angeles, Washington, DC, Chicago and other cities began to become more clearly aware that the central cities were suffering and that something had to be done. Many Protestant churches and other concerned organizations came forward with programs and projects to help the poor of our urban centers. The Roman Catholic response was slow but finally it came.
As urban riots continued for several summers, the bishops at last chose to set up a permanent national effort to use the resources of the Church in cooperation with other groups struggling for a more just society to develop programs in the inner-cities that would assist the poor and the marginalized to lift themselves out of poverty.
But regretfully, the problems were so intractable that many of the other well-meaning entities soon dropped out of the picture and their programs were shut down. However, the American Bishops continued with determination to do the best they could to make a difference in the lives of the poverty stricken and discouraged citizens in those awful neighborhoods. It is 40 years later and the bishops are still there…still trying to make a difference!
During its lifetime, the Campaign (CCHD) has raised tens of millions of dollars and has done its very best, and effectively in my opinion, to place those dollars in the hands of people to develop self-help programs to help lift themselves out of poverty. Far right critics, who are not famous for doing effective work in the slums, examine every program funded, study the names and membership of all boards and related boards, and when they find a gnat on the scene they jump upon it with great enthusiasm and once again chant, “The Catholic Campaign for Human Development is an evil force that should not be continued.” But the bishops plow on!
God bless Pope Francis, now happily reigning. He speaks every day and one of his principal themes is his concern for the poor, the oppressed and the marginalized. The pope calls the Church to “work at the periphery and at the margins, especially for the poor.” He says that a church that does not do so is “sick.” Pope Francis has even said that it is better to go the margins and make mistakes than to become self absorbed. Well, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development certainly works on the margins and is willing to take risks as it encourages people’s upward struggles.
We have a pope, thanks be to God, who understands where the Church should be. May God continue to bless the bishops for their long-term commitment to the goals that Pope Francis has placed before us.

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Catholic San Antonio

By , September 5, 2012 4:31 am


Recently, I was commenting on one or another of the six Catholic colleges in Texas. I endeavored to touch very briefly on each one of them. While there are only six Catholic colleges in the entire state, three of them are located in San Antonio. How did this come about? Shouldn’t they have been scattered across the state more effectively?

This reality was generated by historical factors. For the last half of the 19th century San Antonio was the city that had the highest number of Catholics within its boundaries. The Germans, the Belgians, the Irish were there in goodly numbers and, of course, there was a very large Hispanic population. In the last half of the 19th century, priests and religious had come from France, Ireland, Belgium and Germany to help establish and strengthen the Church and many of them ended up in San Antonio. For this reason three colleges were established there, namely, St. Mary’s University, Our Lady of the Lake and the University of the Incarnate Word. In addition, of course, there are three other educational institutions functioning at the college and university level. They include Assumption Seminary, sponsored by the Archdiocese of San Antonio, Oblate School of Theology, sponsored by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, and finally, the Mexican American Catholic College. That is a lot of schools!

Another interesting aspect about the city of San Antonio and the archdiocese thereof is that in many ways it could be considered as the Hispanic Catholic capital of the United States. There are far more Hispanics in Los Angeles than there are in San Antonio but they do not have the impact on the larger community that those living in San Antonio do. If all of this was not enough, throw in the history. San Antonio began in 1718 and the Church has been there every single day for the last 294 years and so has generated great gifts in theology, literature, art and beauty for which we should all be grateful.

May God continue to bless the Archdiocese of San Antonio.

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The Film is the Thing

By , January 6, 2011 4:54 am

Yes, the film is the thing.  Isn’t that what Shakespeare said, or something very much like it?  I have always enjoyed good movies, but I never had the slightest desire to get into the process of learning how to make them.  However, today’s generation is different.  For reasons that are mysterious to me, there is a powerful and fascinating desire among a large percentage of young people to develop the skills connected with movie production.  I found this an especially strong desire and tendency among young Hispanics.  For this reason, a small school has developed over in East Austin called Austin School of Film and its main outreach program is called “Cine Joven.” There they are training scores of young bilingual children in technology, mentoring, acting, script writing and producing.  They are even writing their own Telenovela for Spanish Speaking Television.

Why is this important?  Regretfully, minority children frequently feel marginalized and that they are not part of the main flow of the society in which they live. Seeing themselves in the movies and making those movies themselves is an extraordinarily uplifting experience for these kids.  My heartfelt congratulations to Anne Kelley who is the driving force behind this school.  The address of the Austin School of Film is 1634 East Cesar Chavez, Austin, Texas 78702. Here is their website:

If you have any money left over from Christmas, send them a gift.  If you don’t, send them a smaller gift!

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