As Record Assistant Editor Marnie McAllister noted in last week’s edition of the paper, the Archdiocese of Louisville played host to about 100 Hispanic priests from across the nation Oct. 8-11, a fact that should make us all proud.
Father David Sánchez, pastor of St. Joseph Church in Butchertown and Holy Name Church on South Third Street, welcomed the annual conference of the Asociación Nacional de Sacerdotes Hispanos (National Association of Hispanic Priests or ANSH) to the archdiocese, and the archdiocese should take pride in the association’s decision to hold its meeting here.
Demographic studies of all types and measure have chronicled over the past decade or two the remarkable growth of the Hispanic community in the archdiocese. Those who’ve lived in Louisville for most of their lives, and who’ve run out of room for candles on their birthday cakes, will recall a time when hearing a foreign language spoken in the city meant you must be sitting in a high school classroom.
The city of Louisville in the 1950s and 1960s had a minuscule international population.
But all that has changed, thankfully. Nowadays, take a shopping trip to just about any part of the city — or to most portions of the archdiocese — and there’s a good chance the words of a foreign language will fall upon your ears. Spanish, Vietnamese, Creole, Urdu, Russian, Swahili, Portuguese, you name it. These days our community and our church are blessed to have an international component, an international flavor that was missing in the past.
We’re all richer for it. We’re all blessed to worship with people of not only different nationalities, but different cultural perspectives. Speak to someone resettled here by Catholic Charities’ Migration and Refugee Services, or have a conversation with a family transplanted here from refugee camps in Burma or some other corner of the world, and you’ll hear people expressing gratitude and wonder for things we’ve taken for granted.
Things such as supermarkets. The availability, at the twist of a wrist, of fresh and healthy water. Housing, transportation, health services — all the aspects of life to which those of us fortunate enough to have been born here are so easily accustomed.
Having the perspective of others from outside our sphere’s of influence is a good, healthy thing.
And so is the economic impact, the emotional support and the cultural vitality and diversity that those from abroad bring with them when they settle here.
Father Patrick Delahanty, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Kentucky, noted as much when he wrote a Time to Speak article in The Record last month.
Not only have immigrants and refugees brought a diversity of language with them to our archdiocese, they’ve brought other riches, too. The economic numbers testify to the fact. For instance:
- The purchasing power of Hispanics in Kentucky in 2010 totaled $2.6 billion.
- Asian buying power was $2 billion, an increase of 596.9 percent since 1990, according to the University of Georgia’s Selig Center for Economic Growth.
- The state’s nearly 6,000 Asian-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $2.1 billion and employed nearly 17,000 people in 2007, the last year for which data is available.
- The state’s 3,663 Latino-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $906.9 million and employed 6,705 people in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners.
- Unauthorized immigrants in Kentucky, Father Delahanty noted, paid $85.1 million in state and local taxes in 2010; paid $29.5 million in state income taxes; and paid $5.7 million in property taxes, all according to information from the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy.
The point is, quite simply, that diversity in the form of immigrants, their language, their culture, their efforts, enriches us all — and sometimes in ways that can’t necessarily be quantified.
Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iniguez, Archbishop Emeritus of the Archdiocese of Guadalajara, Mexico, spoke to last week’s gathering of Hispanic priests and noted that the growing Hispanic community in the
United States can provide a fertile ground for cultivating vocations.
“There are many possibilities here in the United States for vocations from the Spanish-speaking people,” the cardinal said in an interview with McAllister after Mass at St. Joseph Church. She wrote that Cardinal Sandoval urged priests and church leaders to “go to the children, speak to the children” and cultivate new vocations.
To borrow from television commercial on green energy, it would seem that the “opportunities are endless.”