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Faith, Family, and Filipino American Community Life

by Stephen M. Cherry

Publication Year: 2014

STEPHEN M. CHERRY draws upon a rich set of ethnographic and survey data, collected over a six-year period, to explore the roles that Catholicism and family play in shaping Filipino American community life. From the planning and construction of community centers, to volunteering at health fairs or protesting against abortion, this book illustrates the powerful ways these forces structure and animate not only how first-generation Filipino Americans think and feel about their community, but how they are compelled to engage it over issues deemed important to the sanctity of the family.Revealing more than intimate accounts of Filipino American lives, Cherry offers a glimpse of the often hidden but vital relationship between religion and community in the lives of new immigrants, and allows speculation on the broader impact of Filipino immigration on the nation. The Filipino American community is the second-largest immigrant community in the United States, and the Philippines is the second-largest source of Catholic immigration to this country. This ground-breaking study outlines how first-generation Filipino Americans have the potential to reshape American Catholicism and are already having an impact on American civic life through the engagement of their faith.

Published by: Rutgers University Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

This book would not have been possible without the love, dedication, and support of many people. First and foremost I owe a great debt of gratitude to the Filipino Americans in Houston whom I surveyed and interviewed. I am thankful to all the individuals and families who graciously welcomed me into their churches, prayer groups, and homes, and took the time out of their busy schedules to share...


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pp. xi-xiv

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1. Faithfully Filipino and American

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pp. 1-22

Shortly after 8 A.M. on a muggy Saturday morning in Houston, Texas, Dan, a first-generation Filipino American Catholic in his late thirties, urged his family to get ready.1 The night prior, at their weekly household Couples for Christ (CFC) prayer meeting, Dan and his wife Lita, also a first-generation Filipino American Catholic in her thirties, invited me to join them the next morning...

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2. Catholic Culture and Filipino Families

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pp. 23-41

On the 110th anniversary of the Philippine Declaration of Independence from Spain, hundreds of Filipino Americans gathered to celebrate a thanksgiving mass at St. Catherine’s Catholic Church in Houston.1 The service was led by St. Catherine’s resident first- generation Filipino American priest, Monsignor Father José. Those in attendance, also largely first-generation Filipino immigrants, wore...

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3. Community of Communities

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pp. 42-62

“Shhhhhh . . . be quiet, don’t say anything; he’s coming already, get ready to sing,” shouted Reyna, a first-generation Filipina American and the organizer of the party. As we all crouched down, Stan Estrada, a first-generation Filipino American and the guest of honor, entered the restaurant with his first-generation Filipina American wife Cheryl. The crowd met them with a rousing “Surprise” followed...

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4. Communities in Conflict

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pp. 63-84

It was eleven o’clock at night, and for members of Bibingka, all of whom are first-generation Filipino Americans, their Friday night fellowship had really just gotten started. They had been praying the Rosary, singing, and sharing their thoughts on scripture for over three hours. As the final prayer closed with a resounding, “Amen” and one last song was sung, they all made their way...

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5. Building Centers of Community

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pp. 85-105

Every year first-generation Filipino Americans in Houston, like Filipinos in other cities across the United States, host a series of annual induction galas and celebrations for their various regional and community associations. The events are extravagant affairs with formal induction ceremonies, luscious buffets or multiple-course plate dinners, and often involve dancing into the early morning...

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6. Caring for Community

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pp. 106-126

“It’s really a crazy time of the year for us,” Father José explained on the eve of the third annual Alief Health and Civic Resource Fair held at St. Catherine’s Catholic Church.1 As various groups and organizations, Filipino or otherwise, gathered at the parish hall for one last meeting of the parish council before the event, they checked over their lists of volunteers and supplies and debated various logistical...

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7. Protecting Family and Life

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pp. 127-148

When President Bush announced that one of the top priorities of his second term was to reform the nation’s immigration policy by granting millions of undocumented workers the opportunity to attain legal status, the Catholic Church applauded the move but also knew that Republicans in the House, members of Bush’s own party, were staunchly against the idea or any other reforms...

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8. Growing Presence and Potential Impacts

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pp. 149-164

In 1992, Tessie Manuel, with a coalition of other first-generation Filipino Americans that included a small group from Texas, wrote Monsignor Bransfi eld, the rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, to inquire what it would take to build a chapel for Our Lady of Antipolo—an apparition of the Virgin Mary of Peace and Good Voyage in...

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Methodological Appendix

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pp. 165-172

This methodological appendix details the varied ways in which I studied the first-generation Filipino American community in Houston, Texas. In addition to describing the rationale behind the various methodological choices I made throughout the study, it addresses the key concerns that often arise when selecting cases for study and outlines more broadly the advantages these data present...


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pp. 173-206

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 207-216


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pp. 217-222

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About the Author

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Stephen M. Cherry is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Houston Clear Lake. He is coeditor of Global Religious Movements across Borders: Sacred Service (Ashgate, expected 2014).

E-ISBN-13: 9780813562063
E-ISBN-10: 0813562066
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813562056
Print-ISBN-10: 0813562058

Page Count: 238
Illustrations: 5 figures
Publication Year: 2014