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Jan 15, 2013 | Luke Blount

Hispanic Congregations Host Council, Exemplifying Harmony in the Diocese

The Hispanic congregations of the Diocese of Texas are hosting the 164th Council of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas in Houston. This group represents San Francisco de Asis, St. Mary Magdalene, St. James’ and St. John's in the Austin area, and San Mateo, Santa Maria Virgen, San Alban, San Pablo, San Bernabé, San Pedro and Christ Church Cathedral in Houston and the surrounding area. 


Most of these Hispanic congregations are bi-lingual, and although they have come together under the “Hispanic” umbrella, they represent a diverse and growing population in the Diocese of Texas. 


San Mateo’s rector, the Rev. Alejandro Montes, estimates his congregation represents immigrants from more than a dozen countries. Born in Peru, Montes understands the struggles associated with moving to America, and like other Hispanic congregations, San Mateo works to help community members navigate the immigration process. However, the bulk of Hispanic ministry is rooted in the same liturgies and spirit that represent every church in the Diocese. Whether in Spanish or English, the unique experience of being an Episcopalian transcends language and culture and has united the church in Texas and around the world. But developing that Episcopal identity within different cultures takes patience and hard work.


“Hispanic ministry is very organic,” said the Rev. Al Rodriguez, who leads St. John’s, Austin, a predominately Anglo congregation with a Hispanic component. “It has to be developed given its context … Hispanic ministry in the next 25 years has to be aware of the bi-lingual, bi-cultural nature of the generation that is coming up. The monolingual Hispanic congregation is a thing of the past, but the future rests in the next generation that is not in the same cultural or linguistic place their grandparents or parents were.”


The Diocese of Texas has a deep-rooted history of working with Spanish-speaking populations. This continues to flourish under the leadership of Bishop Andy Doyle, who delivers sermons in Spanish when visiting Spanish-speaking congregations. In 2009, the Diocese of Texas became home to the first Spanish-speaking Episcopal parish in the U.S. when San Mateo transitioned from a supported mission to a self-supporting parish. Today, Montes said their average attendance is more than 800 people.


“We have one of the best Hispanic ministries in the whole country,” the Rev. Uriel Osnaya, vicar of Santa Maria Virgen said. “We are in the first 50 congregations with the largest attendance in the whole country. San Mateo, I believe, is number three in the Diocese in attendance and we are number five. We are part of one family. That’s why we have the theme of ‘That We All May Be One,’ because it doesn’t matter if we are Hispanic or Anglo. We are family.”


Learn more about Council here.