Project Canterbury

Our Mexican Neighbors.

By Walter D. Dennis.

The Church's work among Mexican migrant workers has shown marked progress, despite some setbacks. These children are at St. Anne's Mission, El Paso, Texas.

Transcribed by Wayne Kempton
Archivist and Historiographer of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, 2008

MEXICAN NEIGHBORS is one of a series of pamphlets describing the Church's work among various racial minority groups. Other pamphlets in the series will discuss the Church's work among Orientals in the United States, Puerto Ricans in the United States, American Indians, and Negroes. In the preparation of the present pamphlet the general editor, the Rev. Walter D. Dennis, an assistant minister at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York, has had the assistance of Marguerite Post of New York and Constance Swander of the Good Samaritan Center, San Antonio, Texas.

New York 10, N. Y.


SERGEANT CARLOS VIDAVIO of the III Tank Battalion was among the first to step off the Southern Pacific Eagle as it drew into the Santa Fe station. After eighteen months of military service in Oklahoma and Japan he was eager to return to the familiar sights of his home town and to eat his mother's well-seasoned food. He was now somewhat taller and more muscular than two years ago and his former sauntering pace had been replaced by a brisk, energetic walk. Carlos smiled confidently as he strode along and contemplated the gay reception he would get at home and the squeals of delight from the girls and Madrecita at the sight of the presents bought for them in Japan. There would be a succession of surprises for Carlos as well, but at this moment he was in an optimistic frame of mind.

The Vidavio family had moved twice since Carlos had enlisted in the Army, but this railroad company house probably would be little different from the one in which he had been born. From the corner Carlos spotted his mother on the front stoop as she was tossing out a pan of dishwater and watering the hollyhocks at the same time. The next scene was one of warm embraces and effusive tears. Seventeen-year-old Maria Elena nearly dropped her baby brother in her enthusiasm to [1/2] be the first to welcome Carlos. Maria Louisa and Maria Theresa, the only other sisters at home, tugged at his arms to give their share of the welcome. The two girls hopped up and down with eagerness--Maria Louisa shifting from her left bare foot to right sandaled foot and Maria Theresa from right bare foot to left sandaled foot.

Carlos finally managed to disentangle himself from the girls. He picked up the newcomer in the family, his baby brother, and carried him into the two-room adobe house. As the others trailed behind him, he enquired about Pepe, Jorge, and the girls. Madrecita settled herself in the only chair with a back and drew up a stool for Carlos. She looked relieved that here was one mature son in whom she could confide. His two brothers, although only thirteen and sixteen years respectively, had followed their uncle to California to pick fruit and would not be back for several months. Pepe got into a fight at school before leaving and the Vidavios had decided that it was about time he started to earn a living. Of the nine living children in this family, only Lolita and Josefina were in school. They were both in the fourth grade. Maria Theresa could have been going also, but she wore out her only pair of shoes playing hopscotch last week and now had to stay home until Papa could get her another pair. Maria Elena and Mrs. Vidavio had good jobs this season in the cannery, washing and cutting vegetables. It was clean work in spite of the back strain from leaning over counters all day long. At least some income was coming into the family this way, now that Papa Vidavio had lost three fingers while working in the railroad yard.


MADRECITA'S facial muscles suddenly tightened as she brought Carlos up to date on the family news. She knew that her husband would be laid off for good on account of his handicap [2/3] and the surplus of young labor around Santa Fe. Her only consolation was to have Carlos back to help make ends meet and feed her hungry children. She was sure that her son could get a good job with the railroad. But Carlos had other ideas, such as becoming a car mechanic, especially now that the tourist trade was growing rapidly in the vicinity. He had received good training in the Army and could take apart a truck and reassemble it faster than any man in camp.

Carlos would have rushed down immediately to the gas station if Maria Elena had not brought on the tortillas and bean sauce and called the family to the trestle table for lunch. That table was the prized piece of furniture in the Vidavio household for it was one of the few things that did not belong to the company. Only the bare necessities were provided for families of railroad workers. In this case, there were two double beds and a cot for ten of them, one battered cupboard, a chest of drawers, a few chairs, and many flimsy crates used as substitute chairs. All were neatly arranged in the two small rooms, and the dirt floor had been swept and sprinkled with water previous to Carlos' arrival.

Carlos cut the siesta short on account of his excitement to find a job as a mechanic. He was confident of his skill; after all, Uncle Sam had trained him. He put on a freshly ironed shirt and khakis for the interview and by three o'clock was down at the gas station looking for Jenks, the garage superintendent. Jenks did not seem to notice Carlos' clean appearance, for his manner was curt and definitely antagonistic. He had little time to talk to Carlos but he got across the point that he did not need an extra hand, and besides, if he did, he would never hire a "lazy good-for-nothing Mexican." Although this was only Carlos' first attempt to find a job, he was completely discouraged about looking any further for something that would not discriminate against him for bearing [3/4] the name Vidavio. All the tensions that had been present before leaving for the Army returned with increased intensity. Suddenly his brisk walk slackened down to the aimless saunter of two years ago, and Carlos wondered whether he should have stayed in the Army where at least he was recognized for his ability and was given an opportunity to prove that he was industrious. Thus, with sunken spirits he returned to the Mexican district, turned down El Alamo Street in search of his childhood friend, Juan Quintanelos, and together they passed the rest of the afternoon at the corner taverna, frequented only by Latin-Americans.


THESE episodes recounted of the Vidavio family are not uncommon in many parts of the Southwest. The United States has a population of nearly four million Spanish-speaking people in the five southwestern States of Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arizona, and California. In some areas near the Texas border this ethnic group reaches seventy-five per cent or more of the total population, which means that in number they often form a majority. Nevertheless, the Spanish-speaking people are generally regarded by the rest of the Americans as of below-average socio-economic standing.

The Spanish-speaking people and those with Spanish names can be given several socio-economic classifications. There is also the complication of nomenclature for these various groups, which include the newcomer from Mexico (for the most part), the Spanish Americans who have settled in the Southwest for generations, and the naturalized citizen who has chosen to settle permanently in the United States. Thus the diversity within this group creates a complex ethnic pattern. It is the position of the Mexican migrant worker which is of particular concern here.

[5] Mexican laborers have been crossing the border from Mexico into the United States in sizeable numbers since the 1820's. There are practically no geographical barriers to halt this population move. Immigration has been stimulated both by political and economic unrest in Mexico and by demands for cheap labor in the United States. Although both governments in recent years have attempted to restrict illegal entry into the United States, the communities of the Southwest are faced with the problem of absorbing and assimilating into the American community the large number of Spanish-speaking people who decide to settle in this country rather than return to Mexico. Today, few of the so-called Mexican migrant workers come directly from Mexico; the majority (eighty-four percent according to the 1950 Census), are native born Americans although they continue to speak Spanish.

The majority of these migrants are mestizos, that is, predominantly Indian with some mixture of white Spanish blood. In Mexico they belong primarily to the class of landless peons living in rural hacienda villages where they barely manage to eke out a living. Although the typical Mexican migrant worker has come from a marginal economic and social background, there is no reason to assume that with time and assistance he cannot improve his standard of living. The Mexican migrant worker on the whole is eager to find opportunities for advancement. It is here that the Episcopal Church can play an increasingly important role.

The Episcopal Church faces a momentous challenge among the Spanish-speaking migrants and the somewhat more established Mexican Americans. These people are to be found in both rural and urban areas, living under diverse conditions. Mexicans like the Vidavio family are in dire need of the Church's support and guidance. They are receptive, friendly people who become devout churchmen once they feel [5/6] accepted by the Christian community. The Episcopal Church in the Southwest is helping the Spanish-speaking people find their places in the educational, social, and political organizations of the American community.


THE Vidavio family originally came from Saltillo in the northern plateau region of Mexico. During the prolonged revolutionary years between 1910 and 1920 the northern provinces of Mexico suffered heavy damage and the subsequent anarchy drove thousands of landless peons like the Vidavios elsewhere to seek a livelihood. Mr. and Mrs. Vidavio, carrying their infant child, roamed towards the United States border, and at Nuevo Laredo Mr. Vidavio obtained work with the Mexican National Railroad repairing tracks destroyed by the revolutionaries. This young man was accustomed to tilling the soil with the communal oxen, and he felt unsuited to work with a gang who laid down ties to be bolted down by more skilled laborers. He would have been happier at home grasping his wooden plow with handles worn smooth from hard use; young Vidavio missed the hilly plot of land where he had been a tenant since youth.

The Vidavios had been accustomed to a simple and peaceful life in Saltillo. Church holidays and feast days provided the highlights of each year, and the events of the rest of the world hardly ever disturbed this town. As a young boy, Vidavio assumed that he would continue to live on the same land that his father had cultivated. There was no industrialization within several hundred miles of the town; in fact, Saltillo was isolated enough to be thoroughly primitive. None of the adobe huts had electricity or running water. Only the church, the municipal hall, and the other buildings surrounding the central square had electricity. Saltillo had no schoolhouse; the [6/7] limited schooling that Mr. Vidavio had received was through one of the village elders and the village priest before he was replaced by a travelling curate.

Mr. Vidavio and his neighbors were obviously unprepared for an urban life with its many unfamiliar and complex problems. These people hardly knew how to use currency since they had been accustomed to bartering their produce. The Vidavios had to struggle to make ends meet with the pitiable pay check they received from the railroad. Within the year that work terminated and the Vidavios were persuaded to follow a band of Mexicans into the United States to pick cotton in Texas. Without knowing the English language or anything about the condition of life in the country north of the border, the Vidavios found themselves signed up for a season of work which carried them from Crystal City in southern Texas, through San Antonio, and north to Amarillo in the northwestern corner of the State. All their worries seemed to have been solved with the assurance of food and shelter. But this too was temporary work, and the Vidavios longed for their home in Saltillo, where life was rugged but secure.

Unfortunately too many miles separated this young family from their home in Mexico and there appeared to be nothing else to do but to follow the migrant workers to a new location. In this manner the Vidavios finally reached Santa Fe. Several years had elapsed since they had left their home in Mexico. The family had grown to include four children, and the incessant moves became more and more difficult for the family. By some good fortune, however, Mr. Vidavio happened to find work on the railroad in Santa Fe which guaranteed to be more permanent than his previous jobs. For the first time since their arrival in the United States the Vidavio family was able to settle down in one place and begin a more normal life.


[8] MOST of the Mexican Americans living in the Southwest are classified as unskilled laborers. These migrants have been attached to the land for generations, and upon arrival in the United States they are prepared for little else than agricultural work. They usually crossed the border in search of economic security without knowing precisely what job opportunities were available for unskilled labor.

A language barrier is always a disadvantage, and with this handicap Mexican migrants often have been victimized by the operators of large mechanized farms. The typical way of obtaining labor in the Southwest for cotton picking, fruit cultivation, or any of the agricultural enterprises is to organize recruiting teams which are responsible for hiring truck loads of migrant workers and carting them to the farm for the harvesting season. This procedure is known as a "labor contract system," but the terms of such contracts are invariably made in favor of the employer. The migrants, almost entirely Mexican, are for the most part illiterate, ignorant of American labor standards and practices, and in addition unable to speak English.

The conditions under which these crop pickers are virtually forced to live are reprehensible, especially since these people are unable to cope with the situation alone. They have no concept of organization as a means to better working and living conditions. The Mexican Americans are defenseless until the State authorities or some humane organization or individual intercedes to defend their rights. The Church often has an important role in making known the plight of the Mexican migrant workers while at the same time helping to alleviate the immediate material problems.

Cotton pickers are generally the most exploited migrant group. Their work is seasonal, lasting from July until late fall. [8/9] The migrants are obtained through a farm labor supply center to work during the harvest months and then dismissed to fend for themselves. Such sporadic employment is thoroughly unsettling and ultimately produces an undesirable type of citizen. Fortunately the situation is being somewhat alleviated by the establishment of labor camps which provide permanent housing for the migrant workers.

As the Mexican migrants gradually become Americanized (to the extent of learning to speak English and adapting to American customs) they manage to find more permanent and higher paying work. Nevertheless, there are thousands of Mexican Americans who are living under sub-standard conditions. At the end of the cotton picking season, armies of these people can be seen heading north to find work in the fruit regions; others wander about aimlessly looking for temporary jobs in canneries and other factories. The move northward continues with the harvesting of the onion and the spinach crops, which extends from late November until the end of March. At the end of this trek, the migrants are usually on their own to find a way back south again before the cotton planting commences for a new season. There is no past for these Mexican migrants and there seems to be little future for them.


WORKING conditions constitute one phase of the exploitation of the Mexican migrants. Housing raises another difficult problem for them. The agricultural workers are sometimes provided with housing which consists of dilapidated shacks. Newcomers and the first generation of Mexicans rarely can afford to own their own homes and consequently are subjected to housing facilities that in many cases should be condemned. They are often fire hazards and unsanitary, due largely to [9/10] overcrowded conditions. Most of these houses are located in segregated sections of town, where the streets are often unpaved and sometimes without sewers. During the rainy season these streets become quagmires. Little Mexicos can be found in almost every large city of the Southwest.

Not until Mexican Americans manage to locate permanent jobs can they afford to buy their own homes. It is encouraging to find new suburban communities growing up around cities like Los Angeles, San Antonio, and El Paso that include a fair percentage of Mexican Americans. Mexicans are proud people and, given the opportunity, they prove themselves to be desirable citizens. The Church's ministry in these areas is vitally important during this transitional period of unfamiliarity and insecurity for the Mexican American. Religious counsel and support can help them during these periods of social disruption.

The Episcopal missions have been confronted with the problem of keeping up with these people as they resettle various times in a single generation. El Buen Samaritano Mission in Tucson, Arizona has the extraordinary history of at least a half dozen changes in location around the city, each time in a better neighborhood, in order to be able to continue ministering to its Mexican parishioners.


IT IS understandable that education is perhaps the most important need of the Mexican migrant workers. The rate of literacy among these people is far below that of other regions of the United States. Very few of the children of Mexican parents succeed in getting past the first three elementary grades. In many cases the children must begin working at an early age to help support the family which usually is large. Another problem arises out of the scarcity of bilingual teachers [10/11] who can teach English to the Mexican children and prepare them for further learning. The public schools, especially in rural areas, are not equipped to cope with such circumstances.

If the first and second generations of Mexican Americans do not master the English language and acquire a basic education, the chances for improving their socio-economic standards are limited. It is therefore urgent that these children find a place in the American school system. The Mexican Americans are capable of learning, and there is ample evidence of their achieving excellent scholastic standing once they get started. The future of these people depends upon such schooling as will help them become articulate in their communities and occupations. It will be the foundation for social and economic integration. It has been stated repeatedly that the correction of the Mexicans' maladjustment or lack of achievement depends upon a good American educational program.


MOST Mexicans are born into the Roman Catholic Church, but by the time they reach adulthood a large proportion have virtually no active affiliation with any Church. It is not contradictory, however, to say that these people are basically religious. Their religion is closely connected to the activities of every day life and is curiously intermixed with superstition on account of their limited education. The Mexicans through tradition have regarded the Church as a paternalistic institution that provides spiritual comfort and guidance at every turn in life. Thus, the Episcopal Church has a real opportunity to preach the Gospel to this large potential congregation. But to bring these people into the life of the Christian community requires time and patience to meet and to understand them and their special needs. At present the Church is confronted [111/12] with the twofold problem of meeting the basic economic needs of the migrant workers and of offering spiritual guidance. Nine Episcopal missions have been organized in the Southwest to work with the Spanish-speaking population. Three of these are in Texas (San Antonio, Brownsville, and McKinney), two in California (North Hollywood and San Joaquin), two in New Mexico (El Paso and Sante Fe), and two in Tucson, Arizona. There are large areas in between these missions where the Mexican migrants have little or no contact with the Episcopal Church. There are no immediate plans for establishing new missionary centers. It might appear discouraging to Episcopalians living in other parts of the country, but it is a fact that there is a scarcity of priests prepared to give leadership to this work.

There have been some attempts to establish Inter-American committees for the exchange of information, to instruct in the English and Spanish languages, to sponsor courses in the cultural history of Mexico, and to give basic courses in community relations. The Good Neighbor Commission in Texas has made considerable progress in the promotion of understanding between the Latin Americans and the remainder of the Texas community through the practical application of Christian principles. More adult groups of this kind are needed to instruct people who in most cases have never had a formal education.

The Church has succeeded in a few instances in setting up adult educational programs which have proved popular among the Latins. The San Pablo and Buen Samaritano Missions in Tucson, Arizona have formed informal groups for instruction in practical domestic activities as well as in civic affairs. These two missions operate specially for the Spanish-speaking population of Tucson, which now numbers close to eight thousand people. Fortunately, these missions have [12/13] acquired adequate building space to carry on an active program of religious services and activities.


THE Mexicans are basically gregarious people and have a responsive nature. But they are generally lacking in social organization in comparison to many American communities. The Church is able to take advantage of this gregarious characteristic by helping to organize activity groups in addition to performing its pastoral duties.

The Good Samaritan Community Center, a diocesan social agency in San Antonio, Texas, has organized a varied and active program of educational, religious, and recreational activities for adults in addition to its successful work among the children of the Latin American people in the vicinity. It is also very much occupied with working for better understanding between the recent arrivals from Mexico and the established American community. This is a delicate problem which often entails difficulties for any champions of the Mexicans. In the case of the Good Samaritan Center it is encouraging that the efforts of its leaders are bringing about a gradual improvement. More centers like this one are needed for organizing the Spanish-speaking people, to help them become firmly established in their particular communities and to take an active part in the social, political, and cultural life that surrounds them.

The Church's ministry to the Spanish-speaking people is not only important in the transitional communities of migrant workers but also in the more established metropolitan communities where social disruption is raising continual problems. Cities such as Los Angeles, San Antonio, and El Paso contain old Mexican districts that are being encroached upon by industry and commerce, followed by soaring real estate values. [13/14] Many of the settled Mexicans are gradually being forced to move into new areas and to leave behind them neighborhoods with the familiar Spanish plaza surrounded by century-old churches. These people are faced with the problems of resettling, and the Episcopal Church in these instances can be of great service in helping them during the transition and the inevitable personal disorganization that accompanies such a resettlement. Where social organization is wanting, the Church stands as an integrating force in both personal and social life. If the Church acts as the center of the community, many, of course, who are not faithful communicants, will share in its life and work, but it is hoped that by this participation even those who are outside the Church will draw closer to the love of God.

The Church has been influential in certain areas in helping to break down the barriers of segregation during these social transitions. The second and third settlements of Mexicans within the growing metropolitan area of Los Angeles have become successively less segregated. There are many other communities, however, especially where there is a higher concentration of Spanish-speaking people that have segregated nuclei of Mexican families who live in overcrowded and unhealthy housing. It is obvious that the Church has a vital mission in all these varied circumstances.


IT HAS been said by several Episcopalians who have worked closely with the Mexican communities that their work among the children has been the most successful aspect of the Christian mission. Mexicans are extremely concerned for their children's welfare and education (even when it involves considerable personal sacrifice) and take keen interest in any program that may benefit their youth.

[15] One example of this parental concern is told by a priest in the Diocese of Dallas. A primary school teacher connected with the mission was not teaching his students in a satisfactory manner in the opinion of the Mexican parents. Several complaints were made to bring about a change and the parents sought another more qualified teacher. This action was significant in bringing the parents together for the first time in one phase of the Church's activities. Mexican parents follow the activities of their children very closely and in many cases learn much that had never been offered to them in their own youth. In this way they are indirectly exposed to the Church's teachings. A good number of adults have been brought into the life of the Church by their eagerness to see that their children are benefiting from Sunday school instruction or getting the proper kind of discipline and supervision.


TEXAS has the largest Mexican population of any State, amounting to more than 196,000, and it also has some of the most active Episcopal missions. It is particularly encouraging that the work among the Mexican youth is expanding rapidly and successfully. The Church of the Holy Family runs a nursery and kindergarten in the neighborhood of McKinney, Texas, where there is a fluctuating population of Mexicans which ranges from 300 to 800, depending on the season. The school has been operating since 1950 and has an attendance of about forty students.

The children are taught to understand and speak English by bi-lingual teachers who are not to be found at present in the public schools of Dallas. They are also taught the fundamentals of good health and cleanliness, which they might not have learned at home. Without this preparation most of the students would be incapable of handling the work later offered [15/16] in the public schools. This particular church school boasts of no failures or slow students among the Mexicans it has prepared for public school. Previous to its establishment, there had been a discouraging number of failures in the elementary grades leading to the abandonment of an education and the commencement of work in the fields at a very early age. Another advantage gained by the existence of the church school is the noticeable improvement in interracial understanding between the Mexicans and the community.

The budget of the National Church includes generous funds to encourage missionary work among Spanish-speaking people without having any specified program for Spanish work which might lead to segregated churches. It is also most encouraging to have the steady support of the St. Matthew's Foundation for Children, which has given substantial backing to several struggling church schools in Texas. This trust fund has not only offered financial support but it also has been responsible for clothing and feeding many Mexican children who otherwise would have been completely neglected. The work of the Episcopal Church could not have advanced as much as it has today without the help of this foundation. Most of the people reached by these eleemosynary groups do not qualify for State aid, either because they are not American citizens or because they have no social security. The local communities usually cannot cope with the destitution of the migrant workers, who rarely settle long enough in one place to become organized.

The Mission of the Good Samaritan in San Antonio was mentioned earlier in respect to its adult education program. It has likewise offered marvelous opportunities for children through its kindergarten and its recreational activities. This center operates in an area that includes about three thousand Mexican families, of which less than half are reached by the [16/17] Roman Church. It is making reassuring progress in its ministry to these people, even though its program was established as recently as 1951. The Good Samaritan Center is the only one of its kind under the direction of the Episcopal Church. It holds no religious services but concentrates on, expanding its mission of Christian social service.

The Church envisages similar centers throughout the Southwest as a result of the encouraging progress made by the Good Samaritan Center. Although these centers would be organized on a secular basis, it would have a strong Christian orientation. The Mexican migrants would be encouraged to share in the life and work of the centers and through such participation even those who are outside the Church would be drawn closer together in the Christian fellowship.

A smaller enterprise in the same city of San Antonio is the Santa Fe Mission, numbering a little more than one hundred Spanish speaking communicants. Here also are a church school and a summer Bible school. As in most Episcopal missions, Santa Fe Mission operates under the handicap of restricted finances and inadequate clergy and other leaders. In spite of these handicaps, the mission has managed to expand its services to the Mexican migrant workers.

Another center for a missionary school is the border city of El Paso in the Diocese of New Mexico and Southwest Texas. St. Anne's Mission runs a kindergarten for more than fifty children of the local Mexican migrant workers. Every day on their way to school they pass under a portal bearing the engraved words, Come ye apart and rest awhile. Here they learn to speak English and are prepared for public school. These children, all of Spanish-speaking parents, probably would never get past the first three grades if they had not first learned to speak English in the church school. St. Anne's Mission stands out like a shrine in the midst of the miserable [17/18] adobe huts and rut roads of the Mexican district of El Paso. The people of this area are turning more and more to the mission for its religious services and its Sunday school. The practice of Christian neighborliness and co-operation can be seen in the activities planned and carried out at St. Anne's Mission.


OTHER States in the Southwest have a few scattered church schools, but on the whole they are still struggling to establish themselves and they encounter the usual grave problems of sufficient finances and adequate leadership. Some permanent form of missionary work is being organized in the towns of Mendota and Terminous in the San Joaquin Valley, California. This is a large migrant center from which field laborers are distributed to farm factories within a large radius. The Church's ministry to the Spanish-speaking migrant families has been directed in a large degree to the teaching of religion to both children and adults.

The work of the Church in primary instruction has barely begun. There is a distressing lack of new schools and teachers, although it is the hope of the Church that more significant gains can be made in this field during the ensuing years. The Church recognizes the importance of its educational mission to Spanish-speaking children who are eager to feel that they are part of the American community. It is disturbing to know that the average eighteen-year-old Mexican living in the United States has completed no more than the third grade. This fact becomes more oppressive if it is taken into account along with census statistics of three and a half million Mexicans living in our country. Fortunately, the Episcopal Church knows that its outreach to Mexican migrants must include more than a place of worship. Sunday schools and a week [18/19] day elementary instruction are being recognized as important aspects of the Church's missionary work. The Church can help immensely to overcome the language and social barriers of the Spanish-speaking people, a people eighty-three percent native born, even though a large percentage of them still speak only Spanish.

Aside from the religious and educational activities offered by the Episcopal missions of the Southwest, there are several locations where another very important service is being organized: health and clinical services. This may seem somewhat removed from the immediate tasks of an ordinary parish, but the whole Mission of the Church embraces every aspect of the lives of its parishioners. Health and welfare services are an expression of the Church's concern for people. Several missions are well aware of the sub-standard life of its parishioners and within limitations have been able to establish clinics to help the Mexican migrant workers who are in distress.

The Church of the Holy Family in McKinney, Texas has a child care program for children of working mothers. It is hoped that even their limited work will help diminish the high infant mortality rate among the children of the Mexican migrant workers. Some of these people are receiving proper medical attention for the first time in their lives. The State Board of Health is not sufficiently organized or staffed to cope with the expanding transient Mexican population, but reports have been submitted that they are often very co-operative in assisting with medical care and expanding their clinics wherever the Church has first done some groundwork in organizing the migrants and teaching them the fundamentals of cleanliness and healthy living.

The real problem, however, lies with the migrants who are never in one place long enough to become part of the community and thus are unable to receive public welfare.

[20] The Good Samaritan Center in San Antonio also includes a health program and a medical clinic in its organization. This service touches the lives of approximately one-half of the three thousand Mexican families living in the area. The Center is well-recognized among the social service agencies in the city for its work with the underprivileged Mexican families. Plans are being developed for a similar center in Corpus Christi.


THE missionary work briefly discussed in the preceding pages is coupled with other work being done in various parts of California. St. Paul's Cathedral in the Diocese of Los Angeles has assumed new responsibilities for the nurture of Spanish-speaking people who heretofore have had no recognizable religious affiliation. A large group has been integrated into the established congregation at St. Paul's Cathedral, and the Eucharist in Spanish is celebrated once or twice each Sunday. The Mission of the Holy Family in North Hollywood sponsored by the Cathedral has more than three hundred communicants.

An initial attempt has been made in the border city of El Centro to integrate some of the Mexicans into the established American congregation. Not enough time has elapsed yet to appraise the degree of its success among the Mexican migrant workers who drift through and in some cases settle in this city of thirteen thousand inhabitants.


THE Episcopal Church in Arizona has been trying to organize the Mexican migrant workers since the 1920's when the influx of Mexicans to the United States began to increase considerably.

[21] The Alhambra Mission in Tucson has been growing over a period of thirty years (after many setbacks and shifts in location), and today it centers around a vigorous church called Buen Samaritano. The early founders of this mission began with an outdoor Sunday school for the Mexican cotton pickers and other laborers in the neighborhood, supplemented with a limited amount of pastoral work. Over the years the barriers and discrimination against these people gradually have faded away through the work of the patient and determined leaders of this mission.

This brief review of the Church's work among the Mexican migrant workers raises many questions about the success and limitations of the program. In spite of occasional failures and setbacks, there have been marked advances for the Episcopal Church in several urban areas. The Church is really in the primary stage of its missionary work for the Mexicans, compared to the programs undertaken by other Churches.

The Church's work among the Spanish-speaking migrants is not an easy one. There are many perplexing questions as to how to integrate these people into the American pattern of living. The Church is undertaking this task by involving itself in every aspect of these people's lives. Missions are expanding to include church schools, social centers, civic clubs, and many other activities. In doing all this the Church is desirous of making its Spanish American parishioners feel a part of the Christian community and of convincing them that it is possible to establish a brotherhood including every type of person no matter what his background might be. The Mexican is beginning to believe that whosoever knocks at the door of the Church can enter and be welcomed. There is still much to be achieved, but the work of the Episcopal Church has made more than a start, which can only grow into more extensive and effective proportions.


Latin-Americans in Texas by Pauline R. Kibbe (Albuquerque, University of New Mexico, 1946, $2).

United States and Mexico: American Foreign Policy by Howard F. Cline (Cambridge, Harvard, 1953, $6)

North from Mexico: The Spanish-Speaking People of the United States by Carey McWilliams (Philadelphia, Lippincott, 1949, $4).

Mexicans in New Mexico by L. S. Tireman (Albuquerque, University of New Mexico, 1952, $2).

Integration of Americans of Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Oriental Descent by John Milton Yinger and G. E. Simpson (Philadelphia, American Academy of Political and Social Science, 1956, $1).

Since the 1920's when Mexicans came to Arizona in large numbers, the Church has extended its ministry to them, as at San Pablo Mission, Phoenix

While the language barrier remains a serious obstacle in the social and vocational integration of the Mexicans, the Church conducts services in both Spanish and English.

Mexican boys happily learn about America's national sport at the Sante Fe Mission, San Antonio, Tex.

Far less fortunate are Mexican Americans of the older generation who must labor as itinerant crop pickers. They are often exploited by their employers, seldom able to establish a permanent home.

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