By Berta Mexidor
JACKSON – Hispanic Heritage month runs from mid-September through mid-October in the U.S. It began in 1968 when President Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed a national week honoring Hispanic Heritage.
For many, Columbus Day marks when cultures from several continents blended to create what is now a multitude of Latino-Hispanic cultures. Spanish language is now dominant among thousands of dialects, Portuguese, English or French and Catholicism was adopted as the main religion among African and indigenous rites.
A notable percentage of the Hispanic population in the U.S. is devoted to maintaining and promoting the main religious heritage, Catholicism. Data from the Pew Research Institute released in 2016 showed a 129 percent growth in the population of Hispanics in Mississippi since 2000. With around 85 thousand people and with an average age of 26, in 2016 Hispanics made up three percent of the population of the state.
This month’s Mississippi Católico is dedicated to honoring the members of this community building up the church – celebrating a special connection to Virgin Mary and their parish patron saints, marking the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis as first Latin American Pope, showcasing their hard work, their bond with the family and their sense of service to the community. Many parishes celebrated during this month with a fiesta or special liturgy. Look inside the special edition for more photos from these events.
Berta Mexidor asked several leaders in the Hispanic community in the state to finish this sentence:
Hispanic Heritage for me is …
“Very rich and traditional culture – ‘Las mañanitas’ (the birthday song) to Our Lady of Guadalupe and phrases such as: ‘Vaya con Dios (go with God), ‘adios’ (to God), ‘como Dios quiere’ (as God wishes). The elderly always held a place of respect in the home, good sense of humor. They lived at a slower pace by the phrase ‘Hasta mañana’ (until tomorrow) and their faith is centered at home with novenas, respect for the dead, posadas and generosity with guests.” Msgr. Michael Flannery, retired pastor who still works to support the mission in Saltillo, Mexico
“It is the privilege to spread the traditions and culture that characterizes us as Hispanics in the country that gives us so many opportunities.” Karla Vélez, community leader. Mississippi Hispanic Association.
“It is a time when we celebrate the Hispanic people, how they are a part of our national legacy and heritage, how they have contributed to our country, and how their traditions and culture enrich our society.” Father Lincoln Dall, forner missionary in Latin America and current pastor of Pearl St. Jude Parish
“It is the extremely important celebration, which evokes the achievements and contributions of the Hispanic community in this country.” Julio del Castillo, community leader. Mississippi Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
“Family.” Shane Aguirre, first Hispanic descendant on the Mississippi House of Representatives. District 17.
“They are the customs, beliefs and traditions of my country that I can pass to my daughters so they can feel proud to be Mexican.” Karla Vázquez, Lawyer. Elmore & Peterson Law Firm
“A great blessing. It shows the work and achievements of generations and culture contributions to this country beyond language, typical foods and traditions. I feel very proud to be Hispanic and be able to transmit my Latin roots to maintain a friendly dialogue.” Raquel Thompson, Mexican, Coordinator for Hispanic Ministry at Tupelo St. James Parish.
“A gift from God, to be born and to be Hispanic is a wonderful gift, for which I give thanks to the Creator and I am proud of my race and I surrender myself day by day, with faith, hope and love, so that all Hispanics are recognized as a gift for this Church in the U.S. Sister Maria Josefa Garcia Alvarez, MGSpS, coordinator of Hispanic Ministry diocese.
“It is to accept my roots from the country where I came from and see how I can apply and adapt them in the country where I live.” Father Roberto Mena, ST, Guatemalan, sacramental minister of Forest St. Michael and Carthage St. Anne Parishes.