Religious Studies Fall2010

During fall 2010, students in the class Latino/Latina Religions are documenting the history of St. Mary’s College for Women and Pre-GED school at St. Matthew’s Cathedral, the Episcopal Cathedral in Dallas, which is experiencing a surge in Latino parishioners. Through work in the archives, interviews with Pre-GED School students and volunteers, and ethnographic work with the parish, the class will produce a history of the church and its programs that will enable the congregation to better understand its multicultural make-up, the historic trends that led to this make-up, and the relationship between the church, its programs and the surrounding community.

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At home at St. Matthew’s

Robert.jpg An update from Robert, a senior:

Through our service learning at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Cathedral, we have had the opportunity to interact with the parishioners and learn more about who these people are, their culture and their devotion to this cathedral. We extend an invitation to everyone to come and participate in our presentation on Thursday!

The Spanish-speaking community at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Cathedral today is made up in part of residents who have lived in the surrounding area for many years. Others are people who in recent years have immigrated from other areas such as Mexico and Central and South America. In addition, these are mainly middle-class people who consider St. Matthew’s Episcopal Cathedral a place where they can congregate to worship God and participate in social events that bring them closer as a community.

According to Father Tony, the Spanish-speaking congregation attend St. Matthew’s because they feel represented in this place. The congregation feels that whatever their needs may be, they will be addressed, and to a high degree they will be taken care of.

Moreover, Father Tony stated that it is precisely attending to the congregation’s needs that is the most important task for the cathedral. This is one of the reasons people attend St. Matthew’s; people respond positively when they feel that their voices are heard and their concerns addressed. This is also the reason parishioners commute from different regions of the city, such as Mesquite, Garland and other areas.

Through conducting interviews with the parishioners, we have learned that many Catholics attend the Spanish service at St. Matthew’s. Some parishioners have stated that they find very little or no difference between an Episcopal and the Catholic service due to the fact that both religions have the same Roman Catholic roots. These two religions share the same sacraments and rituals. One small difference is the order in which the service unfolds.

Due to the fact that a large percentage of Spanish-speaking parishioners are from Mexico and from a Catholic religious background, St. Matthew’s has introduced two images of La Virgen de Guadalupe since 1984. According to Father Tony, the Episcopal church recognizes the virgin Mary as the mother of God. In addition, those from Mexican feel represented by these images, which gives parishioners a feeling of loyalty toward St. Matthew’s.

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