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15 Pioneers of Latino Catholicism P art of the Latino contribution to Michigan lies in the community’s importance to religious institutions, both in lay participation and in the changes the Latino presence brought for archdiocesan and parochial policies on the part of Anglo clergy. Detroit, among the oldest cities in the United States, has played a particularly significant role historically in the implantation of Roman Catholics in the Great Lakes region, a role it has maintained for native-born and immigrant Latinos. The founding of Detroit by Antoine De la Mothe Cadillac in  occurred at a time when France controlled much of the North American interior. The frontier French military post became an outpost of Montreal and the maritime settlements, developing, like them, for the exploitation of the fur trade and the riches of the New World, and trading in brandy, guns, and blankets. As a strategically located commercial city, Detroit depended on long-distance trade and the movement of commercial products such as furs, fish, and minerals to overseas markets . To achieve local stability, Cadillac recommended habitant intermarriage with the indigenous population in surrounding villages, believing that miscegenation would win the Indians’ loyalty and further their Christianization. During his tenure as Detroit commandant, which ran from  to , when he was appointed governor of Louisiana, Cadillac sought missionaries to teach the villagers the French language, to “civilize and humanize them, and to instill into their hearts and their minds the law of religion and of the monarch.”14 From the s on Detroit grew in prosperity, attracting immigrants from Canada and Irish Catholics from the British colonies. When the British took possession of Detroit in  the city was still largely French Canadian. After the War of  the United States finally took definitive possession of the city and large-scale immigration, mainly from New England and New York, began. Father Gabriel Richard, who served as Detroit’s only priest from  to , was born in France to a well-todo -family. He came to Detroit in , fleeing revolutionary France, and traveled his parish, which extended from Detroit to Mackinac, over Indian trails (at that time it took about seven days just to reach Grand Rapids). Shortly before Richard died in  (he was interred in the original parish seat of St. Anne’s), priests of the Redemptorist Order arrived in Detroit, where they soon founded St. Mary’s and Holy Redeemer parishes, as well as St. Mary’s in Monroe. In the second half of the nineteenth century the Irish and Germans were joined by large numbers of Poles, Hungarians, Czechs, Belgians, Slavs, and Italians, spurring massive church construction projects. As Detroit mushroomed in succeeding decades, Holy Redeemer and the other historic parishes grew apace.15 The first Detroit Mexicans worshipped at St. Mary’s, the old German parish. As the various Mexican-origin groups mixed it became clear that the Mexican nationals tended to be more involved in organizing cultural institutions. Several mutual aid associations emerged, assuming secular self-help functions as well as reinforcing traditional ties with Mexican Catholicism. El Círculo Mutualista Mexicano formed in  from the Ford-sponsored Latin American Club (which survived in modified form into the s). It produced leaders who founded other social and fraternal groups and helped organize Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, the first exclusively Mexican parish in the Great Lakes region, in . The previous year, some  Detroit Mexican families had contributed more than , for the construction of the new church building. The establishment of the parish had also required support from the hierarchy, which Bishop Michael Gallagher offered David A. Badillo 16 when he brought in Father Juan Alanís, an exiled priest from Monterey, in . The founding of Our Lady of Guadalupe occurred during a decade of extensive expansion of the Detroit Archdiocese that saw the creation of some fifty-three new parishes. This church served as a magnet to most Mexicans in the downtown colonia, as well as to those becoming absorbed into outlying neighborhoods.16 Father Alanís’s three Sunday Masses became quite popular. His successor in , the Venezuelan-born Father Luis Castillo, offered two Sunday services, a daily evening Mass, and baptisms. The parish also became somewhat of a shrine for the Mexican patroness, the Virgin of Guadalupe. Father Castillo, however, ran into problems when trying to organize a parochial school. Despite having claimed to have scheduled several hundred children for the opening, few appeared, apparently dissuaded by their parents because of the distance involved in the...


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