GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – For Hispanics, Catholicism is directly intertwined with their culture, giving them a sense of home in an unfamiliar place.

Sister Martha Escobar explains, “When we come to this country, we are looking for something that is familiar to us, and what more than our Catholic faith?”

One reason religion is important to the Latino community is because, according to Father Jose Lopez, the church is a place of refuge. He says, “Whether you’re from Mexico or Central America or South America, suffering seems to be part of our blood. For us, it’s a place of refuge where we go and encounter God who loves us, who has proven to us from the cross that we’re not abandoned.”

There are currently more than 25,000 Hispanics in the Green Bay Diocese, a number that continues to grow year after year.

In fact, Sister Escobar says that in 10 years, the majority of the Catholic population in the US will be Hispanic.

A big reason for the growth is that more churches are offering services like mass entirely in Spanish. One of those churches is St. Peter and Paul Church in Green Bay, where Father Lopez conducts leads his service.

Lopez says, “It’s not that we’re doing nothing out of the ordinary. Everything we’re doing is what the church offers. People come, pray before mass.” He adds, “Mass is not a show, it’s not something to be put on but it’s something to lead people to that encounter with God.”

Parishioners agree that having a church service available in Spanish is what makes Green Bay a great place to worship.

Sister Irma Patilla says, “I come to two Masses every Sunday, and it’s a blessing for the community, especially the ones who do not know English, to be able to understand the words of God.”

Maria Tinoco has been coming to the church for more than twenty years. Translated from Spanish, Tinoco says, “It is wonderful all around. Catholic people, we are always looking for a Parish that offers Spanish mass in our language.”

If you are interested in learning about what other churches in the Diocese offer Hispanic Masses, click here.