- The Washington Times - Friday, August 12, 2005

The new director of the Roman Catholic Church’s Spanish Apostolate in the Arlington Diocese witnesses on a daily basis the growth of Hispanic parishioners in Northern Virginia.

“It’s like having three or four parishes in one,” the Rev. Jose Eugenio Hoyos said of his duties as director of the apostolate, which coordinates Hispanic community outreach within the diocese.

“Where all the Hispanics are coming from, I don’t know. Sometimes I think maybe the Holy Spirit is sending them too fast,” Father Hoyos joked yesterday at a press briefing.

The church is doing its best to accommodate the growth, increasing the number of Spanish liturgies at its parishes and making other changes to make the Hispanic community feel more at home.

“The music we change a little. … We really pray the rosary,” Father Hoyos said. “But we have the same liturgy. It’s a different culture, different language, but the first thing we need is to be united under one faith, one Christ, one church.”

Father Hoyos, 49, took over July 1 as apostolate director after serving as pastor of Holy Family Parish in Dale City. Born in Colombia, he is one of 12 children, including two brothers who are bishops in the church.

While many Catholic dioceses have large Hispanic populations, Arlington is unique in that it has a higher percentage of Salvadorans of any other U.S. diocese, mirroring the region’s high Salvadoran population.

The diocese estimates that about a quarter of its 160,000 Latino Catholics are Salvadoran.

Father Hoyos said the church frequently hosts Salvadoran bishops and conducts mission work in El Salvador. “When I give my Mass, I speak like a Salvadoran,” he joked.

Mauricio Pineda, the diocese’s first Hispanic seminary student and an El Salvador native, said the Salvadoran church places a great emphasis on processions that often fill the streets and annual festivities such as Holy Week.

“The traditions are different,” he said. “During Holy Week, nobody works, and everybody pays attention to the church.”

Arlington Bishop Paul Loverde said the roots of the Roman Catholic Church in America are steeped in immigration, and it’s important now to continue welcoming immigrants of all backgrounds to the church.

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