I noticed the need for Latino ministers also in this country.: Becoming Minnesotan

Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, St. Paul, December 12, 1971.

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Essential Question

Becoming Americans: What does it mean to be an American?

Opportunities in America: What kind of opportunities does this person see in America that he/she did not have in the homeland?

Words to look for


Background Information

About 70% of Latinos are Catholic, and most of the remainder are Protestant or members of another Christian religion. Religion plays an important role in the daily lives of many Latinos and many Latino homes include an altar for prayer with statues or images of saints. The parish church has traditionally been the center of the community, and in the United States Latinos often work with the Church to organize services in Spanish and observe traditions important in Latino culture. Sometimes Christian beliefs are mixed with indigenous religious practices that existed before European colonization.

To learn more about Latino history and culture, visit our Latino Community page.

  • Chapter 1

Download Pablo Obregon 1
3:57 Minutes | 3.8Mb


Narrator: Rev. J. Pablo Obregon (PO)

Interviewer: Ruth Trevino (RT)

PO: And after finishing that school in California, I kept thinking I was going back to Peru. That was kind of my goal - to go back to Peru. And the more I stayed in the States, I noticed the need for Latino ministers also in this country. And so my last year was hard because I was wrestling on going back or staying here. I was involved in a couple of churches in downtown Los Angeles while I was going to school. Finally, I made my decision to go to seminary here in the States. And I chose to come to a seminary called Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota.

RT: Was it surprising for you - the need for Spanish speaking ministers in the U.S.? Was that something you had foreseen?

PO: No, it really wasn’t. I mean, coming to the United States really wasn’t at first for me a place where I would do a lot of interaction with Latinos. Because I was going to a, what you call a traditional school, not necessarily a place where you were going to be speaking Spanish and in a Spanish neighborhood and so forth. But once I got here, one of the teachers invited me to go to this church in downtown Los Angeles. They were almost closing the doors because all of their English speaking people were moving out of the inner city, of downtown. But the pastor they had there was very passionate about reaching out to the neighbors. And in the neighborhood of that church, ninety percent of the people in the neighborhood came from El Salvador. They were refugees that moved from El Salvador. And he started to have Spanish services.

RT: Did he speak Spanish?

PO: He spoke very little. So that is why he was so happy that I was attending the bible school as well as attending his congregation. Again, growing up in a pastor’s home, you get trained. I mean, it is not formal training, but it was easy for me to stand up and be the leader and lead worship and sometimes even preach. It just happened so naturally. Yeah, I kind of started to realize that there is such a big need for Spanish speaking ministers.

A little funny – not funny, but a spiritual moment for me was, when I went to get my visa in Peru to come to the States. I remember the morning. Most of the people in front of me standing in line to get their visa were coming with tears in their eyes, because they were just denying everybody that morning. When I got my turn, I stood in front of the counselor and he asked the question, “So, why are you going to the States?” After he read my letter of invitation from the school, and I said, “I want to become a pastor.” And he just looked at me and with the biggest smile on his face, he said, “We need more pastors.” And he is an American fellow telling that to me. I go back to that story over, and say, “Did he mean in Peru or did he mean the United States?” Because there is definitely still a large need of Spanish speaking pastors here.

Related Glossary Terms


Noun: A gathering of faithful in a Christian church, Jewish synagogue, mosque or other place of worship.


Verb: To anticipate; to predict. (foresees, foreseeing, foresaw/foreseen)


Noun:  A person forced to leave his or her own country and seek refuge in a foreign country out of fear of persecution or violence or because of poverty or natural disaster.


Noun: Religious rites or rituals.


Adjective:  Relating to a part of culture that is passed from person to person or generation to generation.


Noun:  A permit to enter and leave a country, normally issued by the authorities of the country to be visited.


Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access]. http://www.mnhs.org/immigration
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