Hispanic ministry

Immigration reform discussed in a civil tone

The U.S. Catholic bishops do not condone unlawful entry or circumventions of our nation's immigration laws. The bishops believe that reforms are necessary in order for our nation's immigration system to respond to the realities of separated families and labor demands that compel people to immigrate to the United States, whether in an authorized or unauthorized fashion.

Now-venerable Cuban priest's role as bridge-builder grows, bishop says

Father Felix Varela is depicted in a painting from the Felix Varela Foundation of New York. The Cuban-born priest, known as a promoter of human rights, freedom for slaves and independence for Cuba from Spain, immigrated to the United States in 1823. He founded Transfiguration Church in New York and served as vicar general of the Archdiocese of New York. The Cuban bishops initiated his cause for sainthood in the 1980s.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Father Felix Varela was a bridge-builder among Cubans and among Americans in his own 19th century. With the Vatican declaring him venerable, the Cuban priest becomes relevant in that way for new generations, said the vice postulator of his sainthood cause.

Auxiliary Bishop Octavio Cisneros of Brooklyn, N.Y., a Cuban-American who is shepherding Father Varela's cause, told Catholic News Service that he was elated by the April 8 announcement of the Vatican's declaration.

Crowds cheer as Pope Benedict arrives in Mexico as 'pilgrim of faith, of hope and of love'

Pope Benedict XVI, wearing a sombrero, arrives to celebrate Mass at Bicentennial Park in Silao, Mexico, March 25.

SILAO, Mexico (CNS) -- Arriving in Mexico on his second papal visit to Latin America March 23, Pope Benedict XVI said he came as a "pilgrim of faith, of hope and of love," promoting the cause of religious freedom, social progress and the Catholic Church's charitable works.

Pope bids warm farewell to Mexico, heads to Cuba

Pope Benedict XVI donned a sombrero, a traditional Mexican hat, in Leon, Mexico, March 25.

SILAO, Mexico -- Pope Benedict XVI bade Mexico a warm "adios," emphasizing he meant, "Remain with God," concluding a trip marked by outpourings of faith and affection from people in the world's second-most populous Catholic country.

"I leave full of unforgettable experiences, not the least of which are the innumerable courtesies and signs of affection that I've received," Pope Benedict said March 26 in his closing remarks before departing for Cuba.

Pope arrives in Cuba, calls for greater freedom, respect for rights

Revolution Square was filled as Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass in Havana March 28. Tens of thousands of people gathered for the final Mass celebrated by the pope during his three-day visit to the island nation. A giant Cuban flag can been seen on the government building next to the likeness of revolutionary hero Ernesto “Che” Guevara.

SANTIAGO DE CUBA, Cuba -- Pope Benedict XVI began his three days in Cuba with a call for greater freedom and human rights, including increased liberty for the Catholic Church to proclaim the Gospel and serve the Cuban people.

After flying from Mexico, the pope was greeted at the airport in Santiago de Cuba March 26 by President Raul Castro and a formal salute of 21 cannon blasts.

Crowds began arriving along the pope's motorcade route at around 10 a.m. By 11:30 many of the streets in Santiago de Cuba were human rivers.

Making the journey with Jornadas

Members of Jornadas de Vida Cristiana rehearsed the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross), including Jairo Pacheco (kneeling) in the role of Christ, in the parking lot at St. Cecilia Parish in south St. Louis March 18. The group will perform next Sunday at Holy Rosary in Fairmont City, Ill., and at St. Cecilia on Palm Sunday. Jornadas (Journey of the Christian Life) is a Catholic movement for young adults that focuses on evangelization.

Identity means much to a person newly immigrated to this country.

A majority of Hispanic individuals who come to the United States often have family who remain in their home country, said Ramiro Rojas, a member of St. Cecilia Parish in south St. Louis. They may come here with friends or a relative -- maybe just Mom, Dad, an aunt or an uncle. Sometimes they come here on their own, looking for better opportunities or to escape violence.

Parish-based groups are often a safe haven, a place where new friendships and sense of family can be formed, said Rojas.

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