[Bishops' Committee for the Spanish Speaking Newsletter, Number 25, August 1953] Page: 3 of 4
This periodical is part of the collection entitled: Texas Cultures Online and was provided to The Portal to Texas History by the Houston Metropolitan Research Center at Houston Public Library.
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"May I give an answer, that in my opinion hits the nail on the head? 'Somos como somos,' as the
song goes because we have no spirit, because we lack initiative, because we do not have self-confidence. I will
tell you of an incident that proves what I say. A friend of mine, a Mexican seminarian, was ordained a subdea-
con a little over two months ago. Next year, God willing, he will be ordained a priest. Just a few days ago,
we were talking over several things, one of them being the topic of vocations for the priesthood among the
Mexicans. 'Why/ I asked, 'are there so few vocations among Mexicans?' Both of us came to the same conclu-
sion—the answer given above.
" 'I will tell you what happened to me,' he said, 'when I decided to enter the seminary. I was like
the rest of my pals, mischievous and playful. I began to serve Mass at an early age and since that time there
had been a desire to enter the seminary and study for the priesthood. When my pals found out my intentions
they said: 'You to the seminary? You a priest? Impossible! You are poor, and besides you're Mexican, and
you're too dark!' My pals believed that what I was attempting was foolish, sheer boldness. How could a Mex-
ican be a priest here in the United States ? How could a Mexican who is dark and poor aim so high in this
world? They had never heard of such a thing! They had never known of a Mexican who had done this. But I
nevertheless went to the seminary and as years went by, I noticed that many more were surprised—even
shocked to learn of my intentions. When I came home on vacations during the summer, they would ask if I
still intended to pursue my vocation. Now, after eleven years, thanks be to God, within a few months I will
reach the goal for which God has chosen me!
"How many boys there must be to whom God has pointed this same goal, whom God has called to
the priesthood! Yet, sad to say, they do not persevere, they do not even begin an attempt because they lack
spirit, initiative and self-confidence. Their families, moreover, do not help but rather discourage them by say-
ing, 'You had better forget about it. We are poor, we have never had much schooling. Your aim is too high.
We have no influence. It is hopeless and it cannot be.' These and many other objections will be brought up
by the family, discouraging instead of encouraging their sons. Then there is the criticism of their compan-
ions, their friends and neighbors. I have seen it many times.
"The same thing happens in social, political and educational fields. Why are there so few Mexican
doctors, lawyers, and bankers—people of importance and prestige? Precisely because of lack of spirit, initia-
tive and self-confidence, in other words, because Mexicans feel themselves inferior to others. When are we
going to realize that we Mexicans are also a part of the United States of America, that we have the same rights
and opportunities others have? How long are we going to continue with this inferiority complex?
"It is time to wake up! We have the advantage of knowing two languages. What others can do, we
can do. We can better ourselves. Let us have both spirit and confidence. Let us put our inferiority complex
aside, make room for progress and let us go forward."
THE SPANISH SERMON
A perennial subject treated in the clergy conferences in the Spanish-speaking Southwest is the lan-
guage to be used by the priests and sisters who deal with souls. The language question has arisen throughout
Church history in almost every country and much legislation has appeared concerning it. From the time of
Tertullian, Augustine and Jerome, the Church has insisted that the idiom of the pulpit should be that which
is understood by the people. Throughout the breakup of the Latin culture into the many languages of medie-
val and modern Europe, legislation has been wholly in favor of the vernacular, so much so that when the na-
tional language was not understood in a given place, the local dialect was prescribed. The Council of Trent di-
rects that the preaching be in the local language where necessary "lingua vernacula, si opus sit." The Third
Council of Baltimore orders the pastor to use the language of his hearers, even though he is not proficient
in it because people may understand ordinary matters in a language not their own, yet may not grasp the
spiritual matters of a sermon because it is far removed from the ordinary speech they hear.
Delegates to the Third Regional Conference of the Catholic Council for the Spanish-speaking held
at Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1946 listed among the essential needs of the Church in the Southwest, the abil-
ity of priests and sisters to speak Spanish so as to be able to establish the necessary bond between themselves
and the souls they must save.
BASIC FARM TALK
In Las Cruces, New Mexico, a housewife decided to do something for migrants and she is getting
support from the community in fine style. Martha Scaggs, former teacher in Spanish, reasoned that the bra-
ceros could help themselves more if they knew some English; the ranchers who hired them on the other hand
would do well to learn a few phrases of Spanish. Mrs. Scaggs compiled a Spanish-English booklet giving prac-
tical phrases which are of real help to the laborer and the employer. Later editions of the booklet will include
illustrations. For the present the braceros are understanding more English and the farmers are surprised that
Spanish is not as difficult as they had imagined. Already there is evidence of increased understanding of each
other's problems, which is precisely the good result that the teacher turned housewife intended all along. "We
Americans demand the best tools," says Mrs. Scaggs, "but we forget that language is our most important
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Bishops' Committee for the Spanish Speaking. [Bishops' Committee for the Spanish Speaking Newsletter, Number 25, August 1953], periodical, August 1953; (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth250415/m1/3/: accessed June 20, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Houston Metropolitan Research Center at Houston Public Library.