Diocese to host film on immigrant parish

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NEW BEDFORD, Mass. — St. Anthony of Padua Parish in New Bedford will host a special screening of the recently-released documentary film “Adelante” on April 23 at 7 p.m. The joyously surprising film describes the renewal of 175-year-old St. Patrick Parish of Norristown, Pa., with a newly-arrived Mexican immigrant population. Anthropologist Noam Osband, currently a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, emphasizes the community and faith traditions as celebrated by the new parishioners and the similarity of these values to those of the Irish immigrants who populated the parish when founded in 1835. 

While the addition of Spanish-language Liturgies are the structural change, parishioners discuss in detail the various social and community customs that Mexican Catholics have implemented in this parish renewal. The parish has attained a bilingual council. Director Osband shows that even as many daily issues of economics, education, and health care are affected by the mixed-status of many parish households, immigration issues also affect parish Sacraments. Couples planning to wed are unable to visit in-laws and other family members at will, while visa considerations serve to limit the number of invited guests.

Dr. Lisa Maya Knauer, chairman of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at UMass Dartmouth, will screen the film on campus the same afternoon. Knauer comments, “With the kind hospitality of St. Anthony Parish, we hope to foster an important conversation with members of the Central American community in the North End along with English-speaking parishioners and community members of longer standing.” St. Patrick Parish estimates that up to 1,500 Mexican immigrants have enlivened the parish since the new century began. While Mexican-Americans are pleased to participate in the traditional St. Patrick’s Day potluck meal, the parish’s emphasis on the Our Lady of Guadalupe feast day remains relatively new.

The screening is co-sponsored by Catholic Social Services, Centro Comunitario de Trabajadores, the Community Education and Development Center, United Interfaith Action, the Immigrant Assistance Center, and the City of New Bedford’s Human Relations Commission.

A free-will offering will be accepted from members of the audience.

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