After being turned away from several homeless shelters for not fitting their criteria, 20-year-old Alex Samuelson sought out one more place where he hoped to temporarily call home, San Jose Obrero Mission.
San Jose Obrero is a Latino male homeless shelter in East Pilsen that finally gave Alex a place to lay his head and opportunities to rebuild his life.
“Everybody is equal here,” said Samuelson. “We’re all in the same boat. Just because you speak one language or both languages or just because you’re one color it doesn’t matter here. We’re all brothers here.”
San Jose Obrero began as an organization by Friar David Staszak in 1981 as a way to fight homelessness in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood.
Interactive Map: For locations of San jose Obrero missions in Chicago, visit this map
Father Jim Collins, an associate Jesuit priest at St. Procopius Parish, finds integration of two churches “hard.” (Photo by Ewa Lyczewska)
“It is hard to integrate two churches … and nobody is successful at that in five years,” said Father Jim Collins, an associate Jesuit priest at St. Procopius Parish.
Located in Pilsen, a Lower West Side, Latino-dominated Chicago neighborhood, St. Procopius Parish consists of its title name church and Holy Trinity Croatian. St. Procopius Parish inherited a “dying” Holy Trinity Croatian in 2004, according to Collins.
Podcast: Father Jim discusses church integration issues. The song Lamb of God is featured throughout the podcast, first in English, then Croatian, Spanish, and once again in English.
St. Procopius Parish offers seven Sunday Masses: three at Holy Trinity Croatian and four at St. Procopius. Holy Trinity celebrates Masses in Croatian, English and Spanish while St. Procopius has three in Spanish and one in English.
Dr. Jorge Partida, psychologist. (photo by Rima Thompson)
These are challenging times for Mexican-American immigrant communities, said Dr. Jorge Partida, psychologist and author of the book “The Promise of the Fifth Sun.” The impact of the economic downturn has devastated some Americans, but even more so in the Latino community.
Hopes of achieving the American dream are dwindling in the reality of immense job loss and home foreclosures, due to the sub-prime lending crisis. Disheartened and defeated by the uncertainty of the future, many have retreated to Mexico. Yet, despite the despair, inspiring stories of hope, resilience and survival are rising from the suffering.
The Resurrection Project in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood has moved beyond its focus on real estate development to a holistic approach that includes education initiatives and a satellite office in suburban Melrose Park.
“Not [only] brick and mortar” investment, said Pilsen-area tour guide Alex Morales-Aponte, “but human capital” is the new priority for The Resurrection Project’s development efforts.
Morales-Aponte spoke to a journalism class at DePaul University on Sept. 27 about the changing and growing mission of The Resurrection Project in Chicago. He is an authority on the Pilsen neighborhood. The formation and development of The Resurrection Project is intimately entwined with Pilsen’s rich, proud history.
“Pilsen’s history of activism provided the model” for The Resurrection Project, Morales-Aponte said.
Earlier in the year, suburban Melrose Park received a $4.5 million award through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program with the purpose of, “purchasing foreclosed homes and make them affordable,” according to Alex Morales, the resource development project manager for The Resurrection Project.
The larger allotment to the New City community area (which includes the Back of the Yards neighborhood that borders Pilsen) and subsequent rehabilitation will benefit those individuals and families earning 50 percent, or less of the Area Median Income.