Las Hermanas

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Las Hermanas
The Roman Catholic Church is something my family and I are familiar with. In Los Angeles I went to a co-ed Catholic school called St. Eugene. When I first picked up the book I was excited to find out the back story of the organization of Las Hermanas. “In the forefront of liberation of the Mexican American community are beautiful and courageous women, women who know how to fight,” Canciόn de Las Hermanas. That quote summarizes the movement dealing with Latina women in the Catholic Church.

Las Hermanas formed the first national religious-political organization of Chicana and Latina Roman Catholics in the United States. This was all about the Chicano movement, dealing with the changing traditions for religious women in the early 1970s. Las Hermanas dealt with expanding the ministerial role of the U.S. Roman Catholic Church, helped bridge civil rights and struggles, and helped things better receive their needs. Las Hermanas is a feminist organization that includes female agency, women’s empowerment, and social change.

In the Catholic Church male domination was expected. They had to deal with the stereotypes of Latina Catholics. The group consisted of other Latinas mostly Cubans and Puerto Ricans. They wanted to fight discrimination of Chicanas and Latinas in the Catholic Church. This was their goal as an organization. The things that would be put on the back burner at tan institutional church, such as reproductive rights, sexuality, and domestic abuse is what Las Hermanas were focusing on. Las Hermanas paired up with PADRES, (Padres Asociados Para Drechos Religiosos, and Educativos y Sociales, which is an organization for Chicano priest. Together they worked on various projects and are the reason for a lot more Hispanic leaders in the church today.

The Chicano movement helped bridge politics and religion. It seems that Las Hermanas wanted the church to adapt to the changes of the world. They also wanted to church to deal with and have solutions to problems that are usually taboo to talk about. By having an identity in the church the women could better relate to religion and also feel as though they belonged there being a Hispanic women. After having multiple meetings in Houston, Texas they decided to mobilize in 1971. The motto of Las Hermanas is “United in Action and Prayer.”

Las Hermanas had four goals for Spanish speaking people who serve God which was to activate leadership, social change, contribute to the cultural resistance of La Raza, and educate the Anglo congregations of the needs of the Spanish speaking communities. Women that were in the Mexican American community had experienced racism, and felt very alienated. They were encouraged only to speak English, and leave their past behind. I could not imagine people devaluing my life just because it’s not the same a theirs.

After the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 Mexican Catholics became U.S. Catholics overnight. The authority was with European-born pastors and bishops. There was a cultural difference, and a lot of lost meaning in the sermons. The Hispanic culture could not relate, and felt striped of their beliefs. The Chicano and Chicanas were determined to get the cultural pride back, political and economic power, and social change.

Hispanics weren’t receiving the same education and families were barely surviving in poverty. “The failure of the schools to provide them with the skills, knowledge, and credentials essential for entrance into the higher levels of society,” (31). It was devastating to have had to deal with the inequalities as a Chicanos. Sister Ortega, a Las Hermanas leader, wanted to unite closer and educated herself and others on whom they were, where they were going, and how they were going to get there. Ortega traveled from California to Abilene, West Texas to teach religion to youth from public schools. She talks about the many problems the children had such as being hit just for being Mexican, being...
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