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Hispanic Outreach

When the Redemptorists arrived in the U.S. in the mid-19th century, they quickly began caring for large populations of German and Irish immigrants — groups of people far from their native land who struggled to support their families and find acceptance in a new place. Today, Redemptorists continue this care for immigrants, especially those from Spanish-speaking countries. In many cases, this ministry takes place in parishes, but a few Redemptorists have found ways to reach out to larger populations.

In the Diocese of Metuchen, NJ, two Redemptorists recently stepped in as directors of Hispanic ministry. They are helping to build up the existing ministry in the diocese as well as find ways to minister to Hispanics living in the far western part of the diocese where Spanish-speaking priests are scarce.

The Juan Neumann Center, which opened in New York in January 2003 with its volunteer social workers, assists with employment and housing issues, residency and citizenship application, immigration and asylum requests. The same social workers lend support to immigrants (the majority of whom are women) seeking residency who are threatened by spousal abuse and thus restrained from establishing residency or citizenship. Immigrants who have religious and spiritual needs also come to the center seeking comfort and advice. The center also provides mediation between immigrants and employers who hold back or refuse to pay just wages.

Father Ruskin Piedra represents the Redemptorists at the center

"It is very fulfilling and demanding," he says, "to reach out to the poorest and most abandoned. These are the new poor that are coming to our shores. We are grateful that God gives us the opportunity to offer them a place of safety."

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