Shared Faith of Mexican and Black Catholics During the Segregation Era

December 7, 2022

Segregation in all its types, formed how and the place sure populations lived, shopped, performed and worshiped. This is extra noticeable in massive city facilities, simply supported by inhabitants density. A symptom of that is seen in auto-segregation or self-segregation, principally amongst ethnic or non secular teams. In the Midwest, examples of this may be seen in areas with ethnic enclaves with a protracted historical past, equivalent to Chinatown in Chicago or Mexicantown in Detroit.

In Indiana, extra particularly in Lake County, metal cities like Indiana Harbor (East Chicago) and Gary noticed a various combine of ethnic populations from Mexico, Latin America, and japanese and southern Europe. Among this various immigrant combine are additionally southern Blacks who have been migrating north throughout The Great Migration. All have been drawn to the industrial lakefront hall for well-paying jobs. Industries equivalent to normal manufacturing unit work, meat packing, railroads, and heavy industrial jobs in the many space metal mills, helped to economically maintain and develop these communities. While many lived amongst one another in a cultural combine, some areas noticed small flourishing pockets of cultural density. Each carving out bodily areas of belonging. Outside of the house, areas of cultural belonging existed in pool halls, cultural social halls and golf equipment, mutual assist societies, and on this occasion, locations of worship.

Given these fastidiously established locations, hardly ever did they intermix. Rather, it’s laborious to discern when or how intermixing occurred. Here are some examples of these creating and breaking the cultural divide.

Indicators of Auto-Segregation: Places of Worship
Research-wise, auto-segregation is most evident in the “Churches of East Chicago” part of the 1940 City Directory, itemizing greater than 60 congregations of differing denominations and cultural or ethnic identification. Presently, the City of East Chicago is just 16 sq. miles and averaged three to 4 church buildings per mile. Both the variety and density of church buildings and congregations of this period is outstanding. In 1940, one wouldn’t should be a demographer to see what ethnicities made up the total inhabitants. The metropolis listing itemizing alone may let you know all that you’d must know.

What’s in a Name: Churches
Prime illustrative examples are three listings of a church named “St. George’s Orthodox”, every one belonging to the Greek, Roumanian (Romanian), or Serbian communities. Three “Holy Trinity” church buildings belonging to the Croatian, Hungarian and Slovak communities. Perhaps extra fascinating is “Holy Ghost Church”, one is Greek Catholic, the different is listed as Independent Greek Catholic; to not be confused with Greek Orthodoxy. Lastly, there are two “Church of God in Christ,” each belonging to the Black group, or the time period used of this time, “colored”. One was on Melville Street and the different on Block Avenue.

Intermixing inside these locations of worship will not be simply identifiable and we will presume it occurred. There are hints in private recollections and a scant point out in the native newspaper. One of the early contributors of the Latino History Project was Peter Ayala (1931-2021) who talked about that his padrinos (godparents) have been late to his baptism attributable to a flat tire. Originally the baptism was to happen at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church (Mexican Roman Catholic) in the Block and Pennsy neighborhood. Consequently, he was not in a position to be baptized at OLG. Later, he was baptized at St. John Cantius (Polish Roman Catholic). He confidently assured me that he could have been the first Mexican to be baptized at this Polish parish.

3855 Pennsylvania Avenue; Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Jude
While researching and writing, Hoosier Latinos: A Century of Struggle, Service, and Success, I discovered an informal newspaper point out of the early Indiana Harbor Mexican and Black communities celebrating mass collectively at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church (OLG) in the Block and Pennsy neighborhood in 1939. While a piece of this neighborhood was at one time known as “Little Mexico” in the Nineteen Twenties and early Thirties. It was each densely and diversely populated. In 1926, the Mexican colony based a Catholic church in the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas. In early September of 1939, a grateful parishioner who overcame an sickness, lit a candle in veneration to Mary. That candle sparked a fireplace and swiftly broken the wooden construction church. Before the hearth, mass instances have been as bountiful as the dimension of its congregation.

Image from Silver Anniversary, Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, 1927-1952

This similar yr the Hammond Times ran a information article about the building of the new Our Lady of Guadalupe church at 3520-26 Deodar Street, mentioning in a single sentence that the Black group worshiped alongside the Mexican group. At this time the Black Catholic group of Indiana Harbor had no church of its personal.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, 3520-26 Deodar Street, Indiana Harbor (East Chicago), IN Castillo’s Realty Collection, ca. 1928-1970, Indiana Historical Society

After a bigger congregation was constructed and the 1926 period wooden framed construction church was repaired, it was then given to the Black Catholics of Indiana Harbor, and was consecrated in the title of St. Jude. On Christmas Eve in 1940 its first mass was celebrated. This constructing served as a historic first – serving as the first Roman Catholic Church in Indiana Harbor for each the Mexican and Black communities.

Inaugural Mass for Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, 1940 Peter Ayala, Indiana Historical Society

December 12: Dia de la Virgen de Guadalupe
Presently, Our Lady of Guadalupe Church stays the first Mexican Roman Catholic Church in the State of Indiana. Catholic Mexicans worldwide rejoice Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12. It commemorates the look of the Virgin Mary in 1531 to Juan Diego, a Mexican peasant. Additionally, it serves as a nationwide vacation in Mexico and an indicator of the Christmas season in Latin America.

Learning of this twin historical past of shared religion, in the period of segregation in Indiana, was each gorgeous and a refreshing discovery.

Here is a full listing of locations of worship per the 1940 East Chicago City Directory:
Antioch Baptist (coloured) – 4014 Alexander Avenue
Apostolic Holiness (coloured) -3805 Michigan Avenue
Assumption of Blessed Virgin Mary (Catholic) – one hundred and fortieth and Elm Street
B’nai Israel Congregation (Jewish)- 3517 Hemlock Street
Central Baptist – 148th Street and Northcote Avenue
Church of Christ -5006 Baring Avenue
Church of God (coloured) – one hundred and fortieth and Alexander Avenue
Church of God (coloured) -3522 Pennsylvania Street
Church of God in Christ (coloured)- 3907 Melville Avenue
Church of God in Christ (coloured) – 3632 Block Avenue
Church of Good Shepherd, Episcopal – 4527 Baring Avenue
C.M.E.-Methodist (coloured) – one hundred and fortieth Street and Alexander Avenue
First Baptist (coloured) – 4901 McCook Avenue
First Baptist – 138th and Grand Boulevard
First Christian – 3717 Grand Boulevard
First Church of the Nazarene – 911 W. Chicago Avenue
First Congregational – 145th and Magoun Avenue
First Hungarian Baptist – 4754 Melville Avenue
First Hungarian Reformed – 3602 Ivy Street
First Methodist – Barring Street and Chicago Avenue
Frist Methodist – 3502 Grand Boulevard
First Mexican Baptist – 3840 Pennsylvania Avenue
First Southern Baptist – 4802 Northcote Avenue
First Spiritualist – Ok of P Hall, Euclid Avenue
First United Presbyterian – 138th Street and Hemlock Avenue
Friendship Baptist (coloured) – 4601 Melville Avenue
Full Assembly of God Pentecost – 533 W. Chicago Avenue
Full Gospel Assembly of God – 4736 Olcott Avenue
Genesareth Evangelical, Lutheran (Swedish) – 139th Street and Hemlock Avenue
Grace English, Lutheran – 905 W. Chicago Avenue
Hagars Spiritualistic Church (coloured) – 3529 Pennsylvania Avenue
Holy Ghost Church (Greek Catholic) – 4401 Olcott Avenue
Holy Ghost Church – (Independent Greek Catholic) – 4009 Fir Street
Holy Trinity (Hungarian Roman Catholic) – 4746 Carey Street
Holy Trinity (Croatian Catholic) – 4760 Alexander Avenue
Holy Trinity (Slovak Lutheran) – 3719 Elm Street
Hungarian Reformed – 4820 Kennedy Avenue
Immaculate Conception (Italian Catholic)- 149th Street and Olcott Avenue
Our Lady of Guadalupe (Mexican Roman Catholic) – 3855 Pennsylvania Ave, later in September that very same yr, 3520 -26 Deodar Street
Pesach Cohen Congregation (Jewish) – 4734 Magoun Avenue
St. Alban’s (Episcopal) – 3620 Fir Street
St. Basil’s (Romanian Greek Catholic) – 4316 Indianapolis Boulevard
St. Demeter’s (Romanian Catholic)- 138th Street and Butternut Streets
St. Francis of Assisi (Catholic) – 139th and Fir Streets
St. George (Serbian Orthodox) – 4015 Elm Street
St. George (Greek Orthodox) -136th and Hemlock Streets
St. George -New- (Romanian Orthodox) – 3617 Elm Street
St. John Cantius (Polish Catholic) – 3901 Pulaski Street
St. Luke A.M.E. (coloured) – 3729 Butternut Street
St. Mark A.M.E. Zion (coloured) – one hundred and fortieth and Deodar Streets
St. Mary’s (Catholic) – 144th Street and Indianapolis Boulevard
St. Michael’s Archangel (Polish Independent) – 4922 Wegg Avenue
St. Nicholas (Romanian Catholic) – 4301 Olcott Avenue
St. Patrick’s (Catholic) – 138th Street and Grand Boulevard
St. Paul’s (Evangelical Lutheran) – 1105 W. Chicago Avenue
St. Paul’s Evangelical (German Lutheran) – 3734 Deodar Street
St. Stanislaus (Polish Catholic) – a hundred and fiftieth Street and Magoun Avenue
St. Vladimir’s (Russian Orthodox) – 4021 Elm Street
Salvation Army – 4620 Tod Avenue
Swedish Evangelical Mission (Lutheran) -139th Street and Grand Boulevard
Tabernacle Baptist (Colored) – 3867-69 Pennsylvania Avenue
Zion Baptist (coloured) – 3939 Drummond Street

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