Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month 438 314 SVDP USA

Written by Tai Jackson — SVdP Seattle

Hispanic Heritage Month is an annual celebration lasting from September 15 thru October 15, but originally traced back to President Johnson, who first introduced Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968. The week-long celebration was later changed to a month by President Ronald Reagan in 1988. During this month-long event, we recognize and honor the cultural, historical, and societal contributions of our Hispanic and Latino communities.

Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to acknowledge the diversity within the Hispanic and Latino communities and their contributions historically in the United States. It’s important to remember the influence they had in shaping the nation’s history throughout various fields. The contributions of figures like Cesar Chavez in the labor movement and Justice Sonia Sotomayor on the Supreme Court highlight the lasting impact of Hispanic Americans in society.

Another aspect of Hispanic Heritage Month is to educate and raise awareness about the socio-economic, political, and educational challenges that are faced in the Hispanic and Latino communities; and the work needed towards addressing such disparities.

With this idea in mind, for the last 10 years, our St. Vincent de Paul Centro Rendu program has been dedicated to lifting spirits by partnering with families, churches, schools, government, and local businesses to create a community center that provides essential tools and resources needed for the Hispanic and Latino community to learn, live, work, and thrive.

Many celebrate by participating in festivals, parades, and cultural events that showcase the Hispanic and Latino traditions. This month is a time to celebrate, reflect upon, and honor the contributions of the Hispanic and Latino communities to the United States. It’s a moment to embrace diversity, learn from history, and work towards a more inclusive future.

05-04-2023 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders

05-04-2023 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders 900 900 SVDP USA

Good Shepherd….Good Plumber

“The Lord is my plumber. That is not what you expected me to say, right?”

Fr. Thomas, well known for his short Homilies, had his flock captivated. He went on to explain that since he had not seen any shepherds out and about, it goes without saying that we need to find another person more relatable to our times.

Good nurse. Good farmer. Good teacher. Good boss. Good mechanic. Good janitor. Good garbage man.

During His ministry, Jesus used parables as a teaching tool. In this Sunday’s Gospel reading He reminds us, “I am the gate for the sheep.”

What tools are available to us today, as we face the challenges of a shrinking church? Drawing most members from our retired population, we appear to have come out of the pandemic leaner than we would have year after year in “normal” times.

With the closures and merges of churches across the country, most of us have been displaced in one format or another. For some, the demographics of our communities have changed. I know for me, after 23 years in one parish, the thought of change traumatized me.

But if I was honest, the parish my heart yearned for was only in my memory.

Then one asks, if I am not growing with my community, do I need to look for a different gate?

Recently I moved to a new parish: Mary, Mother of God. Going in, I knew they had recently completed their “Renew My Church” process. Renew My Church is the movement employed by the Archdiocese to address the challenges being faced in Chicago as Mass attendance dwindles.

I came from what is considered a diverse parish. I have visited many diverse parishes, but never have I felt as a powerful welcoming force as I have at Mary, Mother of God Parish.

On Easter Sunday, Fr. Robert Cook wished us all a Happy Easter in 11 languages (English, French for Francophone Africans, Vietnamese, Lao, Tagalog, Spanish, Yoruba, Edo, Igbo, Tigrinya [Eritreans], and Polish). Looking at the reactions on the faces of those in the pews next to me, I could see how this was received with a warm embrace of togetherness.

Beyond languages spoken by those present that day, Mass is celebrated weekly in English, Spanish, and Viet/Lao. Monthly Masses: Eritreans (Ge’ez Rite) and Burmese. The pastoral council has representation not only from all the groups, but also from the churches that were part of the mergers and other churches that were closed.

Seeing a diverse group of people continue to attend Mass together week after week is extremely encouraging. The pastor has been extremely intentional in fostering a sense of belonging for everyone who walks into the church, including our brothers and sisters experiencing homelessness, who often come for a cup of coffee after Mass.

One would think all of that was enough to tell me I had found my home parish. When a group of us reached out to Fr. Bob about reactivating the Society of St Vincent de Paul, little did we know what a perfect fit this would be.

The parish has an outreach ministry, Canterbury House, “which feeds the soul, and relates to feeding the body through the soup kitchen and food pantry. It is a Eucharist community in service to the parish through prayer, outreach, fellowship, and Catholic social thought.”

This is where we as Vincentians have found a new home. We find ourselves part of a group that opens its doors every Monday from 1 – 5 pm, and invites people living outside to come in as our neighbors. It’s a reverse Home Visit — but so enriching.

I have learned more about accepting the other during these Monday afternoon visits. Been overcome by the beauty of friendships being created. Seeing them embrace Canterbury House as a place where they are not shunned, but rather, are family. The beautiful experience is the brainchild of James Murphy, who is the full-time live-in community member of Canterbury House.

At Mary, Mother of God I have found a community full of Good Plumbers.

Black History Month — Resisting the Plague of Racism

Black History Month — Resisting the Plague of Racism 1080 1080 SVDP USA

Written by: Pam Matambanadzo, National Multicultural and Diversity Committee Chair

We continue our reflection on Black History month and its theme for 2023 – “Black Resistance.”

Last week Connie and Wayne challenged us to reflect, relate and release. 

Do you feel you can relate? As a Vincentian, are you open to accompanying those living on fringe of society, going beyond the charity (meal or shelter) we offer? Are you playing a role towards ending the generational struggle that Black Americans continue to carry? Are you seeking justice?

Many Black Americans will collectively continue to resist the plague of racism. However, for meaningful change to occur, it requires “all hands-on deck” approach as one Society. As fellow Christians we are inviting you to journey with us as we explore the many policies put in place at the end of slavery that are still around today in one form or another. These policies act as barriers to entry – keeping families in a cycle of poverty.

After your reflections last week, and this week – do you feel you have a better understanding of the plight of Black Americans? If no, what steps have you taken towards filling in your knowledge gap?

On the third Thursday of each month the Voice of the Poor Committee has webinars that you can utilize. Topics range from how to set up an advocacy committee at your Conference or Council and other times we delve into policies and issues. This month (February) our topic is New Congress; New Opportunities. In March, 2023 Jack Murphy and Wayne will be covering redlining and the discriminatory practices in housing. Please come and join us.


  1. Berkley Institute breaks down institutional racism in a video:
  2. USCCB Open Wide Our Hearts: Pastoral Letter on Racism:
  3. Harvard paper on Massachusetts Racial Disparity:
  4. Reflective Examination of Conscious: Examination of Conscious .pptx

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