Father Bruce Lewandowski (above), Vicar for Cultural Ministries, Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
For the past three years Father Bruce Lewandowski has overseen the Office for Hispanic Catholics as the Vicar for Cultural Ministries at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
His primary goal is to make sure the estimated 200,000 Hispanic Catholics of Philadelphia know that the church is there for them through immigration services, child care services and other family services.
With such a high Hispanic population, Lewandowski believes there should be a Hispanic bishop in Philadelphia in addition to more Hispanics in the archdiocese.
“The hierarchical structure of the church needs to reflect the people of the church,” Lewandowski said. “It’s important and crucial to see Hispanics take positions and responsibilities to lead the church into the future.”
Lewandowski learned Spanish while at the seminary where he was required to read the mass and a homily in Spanish in order to be ordained. He took this requirement very seriously and even went back to the Dominican Republic three more times to take more classes.
Ana Flores, Executive Director, Mexican Cultural Center of Philadelphia
Ana Flores has been a symbol of the Mexican Cultural Center’s mission statement, which is to promote the understanding and awareness of the cultural and artistic diversity of Mexico.
First and foremost, Flores has served as the Center’s communicative front line in uniting Philadelphia’s Mexican population through a common membership to the MCC.
Flores is also in charge of organizing and orchestrating 15 different events that benefit Mexican-Americans in the Delaware Valley scheduled throughout the year. Her efforts have helped produce a forum for Philadelphia’s Mexicans to stay in touch with the rich culture from which they come.
Carlos Giralt, Mexican Consul of Philadelphia
Carlos Giralt has represented the Mexican population in Philadelphia proudly as the elected Consul. He has worked primarily from within the Mexican Consulate, but he has made numerous public appearances on behalf of the Mexican community.
During his time as Consul, he has worked closely with members of Philadelphia’s city hall and Mayor Michael Nutter to fight for and defend the basic rights of the city’s Mexican citizens.
Elicia Gonzalez, Executive Director, GALAEI
What began as a short-term interest for Elicia Gonzalez has turned into a life-long passion. She started working with GALAEI four years ago with the pursuit of social justice for queer people, particularly in the Latino community, serving as her main motivation.
Gonzalez has endured and fueled a lot of change within GALAEI as they have evolved to better accommodate the many sexual and gender identities within the Latino community.
Elicia Gonzalez deserves a lot of credit for the services that GALAEI continues to provide in the areas of sexual education, health and testing while bringing the queer Latino population closer together through a number of social events.
Carlos Pascual, Youth Artist Program Coordinator and Instructor at Taller Puertorriqueno
In the 12 years since coming from Argentina to the United States, Carlos Pasqual has been facing the challenge of helping young Latinos in the North Philadelphia area to pursue education beyond high school by instilling positive values through the arts.
Pascual teaches 15 young Latino students in Taller Puertorriqueno’s after school program and has to play friend, father and teacher to the kids.
“Some former students say ‘I’m at the community college, I’m going to be a doctor, I’m married, I’m very happy. I want to say thank you to you,’ and that makes me very happy,” Pascual said.
– Text and images by Oscar Castillo and Ross DiMattei