The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


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Mexican immigrants confused over 'one holy catholic ... church'

When María Eugenia Aguilar emigrated from Mexico six years ago to join her husband in Chicago, she found her new way of life difficult, the homesickness unbearable.

"I missed everything and was depressed," Aguilar says. "I had been a Catholic all my life and felt the need to speak with a priest." Visits to several Roman Catholic churches didn't bring her solace — until she came across Iglesia San Jose, an ELCA congregation. "I walked in, saw the Virgin of Guadalupe and immediately felt at home," she says. "I continued coming. I didn't know it was a Lutheran church."

Roman Catholic priests and parishioners on Chicago's South Side and nearby Cicero, Ill., where San Jose is located, say Aguilar's experience isn't unusual. They accuse some Lutheran Latino congregations of luring Mexican immigrants into their churches by referring to themselves as "catholic."


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