In some parishes in Oregon, the tables are turned.
When Father Angel Perez, who was born in Mexico, became pastor of St. Luke Parish in Woodburn, he announced he was there for the whole community, not only for the Latinos.
Ideally, he says, for unity’s sake the parish would have bilingual Masses every weekend. But the priest knows that Catholics like to pray in their own languages. Father Perez does hold bilingual liturgies on special occasions and hopes that will bring members together.
Woodburn’s Catholic population is mostly Hispanic. Masses in Spanish are so full of young families that an overflow crowd watches on a screen in the school gymnasium.
By comparison, the Anglo community at St. Luke’s is small, composed largely of elders, the priest says. Some Anglos accuse him of favoring Latinos. Father Perez says it’s just a matter of numbers — the more people, the more need.
He purposefully invites people from different cultures to sit on the pastoral council, administrative council and liturgy commission. And now, his assistant priest is a Filipino.
A few years ago, there were two youth groups at St. Luke, one in English and one in Spanish. Now they are combined.
“It’s healthier,” says Chris Storm, the youth minister. “That’s the way it is in school. Why shouldn’t it be that way in church?” Of the 140 teens involved, only 10 are Anglo. Almost all the Hispanic youths know English, so everyone can learn and pray together smoothly.