I am a Catholic priest who pastors two churches which have significant Latino populations -- predominantly Mexican, with a significant presence of Central Americans in the larger church and a sprinkling of others. Most Americans assume the Hispanics are illegal, and I have no doubt that many are. I have been serving these communities for 16 years and the following describes something I developed which has proven very beneficial in breaking down barriers and developing understanding.
As I completed several years of pastoring St. James Church in Conway, SC and Resurrection Church in Loris, SC, I found myself agonizing over the mutual suspicion, lack of contact, and false assumptions among the English-speaking and Spanish-speaking parishioners. Both are significant parts of the parish population. I have come to know, appreciate and love both, with their distinctive characteristics, strengths and foibles, and shared Catholic faith.