Mexicans and other Latinos constitute 44 percent of Chicago Catholics. Facing a wave of parish closures, the archdiocese’s vitality rests heavily on Latinos. In Pilsen, once home to thirteen parishes, today only three parishes remain. This barrio’s Mexican identity is further challenged by gentrification. Yet Mexican Catholic devotion flourishes in Pilsen in public and unexpected ways, from house shrines and Day of the Dead altars to street Masses and citywide pilgrimages. What developed decades ago in a couple of parishes, most notably, St. Francis, impacts the entire archdiocese. Latinos constitute 17 percent of the US population, and the Mexican-descent population has settled in every state. Chicago’s century-old Mexican population offers lessons for countless dioceses and parishes in the midst of ethnic integration and succession around the nation.
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