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  • Deacon Dan Wright serves the Diocese of Austin, Texas. His work outside the parish is as a special education teacher serving students with significant cognitive disabilities.

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  • Family activities, spirituality, liturgy, Christian apologetics, social justice topics, special education issues, and promoting the peace and unity of the human family.
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January 02, 2009

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Pia

Do you think that in your diocese the numbers are rising because of the influx of Mexican immigrants, whose expression of faith may be more deeply rooted and convinced, and thus even a stimulus for other Catholics?

Deacon DW

I do think that immigration is part of the growth we're seeing, but not all of it is Mexican immigration. During diaconal formation in the late 90's I once heard our now retired Bishop Emeritus John McCarthy describe central Texas as sort of a hub for immigration from all directions.

With the high-tech growth in the Austin area, we've seen a great influx of people who have moved here from California (after visiting there this last summer I can't imagine why anyone would want to leave). However, California isn't all of it either. About 10 years ago I was having a conversation with the head librarian at Austin Presbyterian Seminary, whose wife is Catholic, and who at the time lived near my parish. "We attended your parish a couple times," he told me, "but we felt like it was mostly a bunch of yankees." Indeed it's true that the Austin area has experienced growth from the north and northeast US as well.

My experience is that in the Austin area there are parishes with huge numbers of Spanish speaking parishioners. My parish, which is still very much on the grow, is unusual in that it is made up predominantly of people with English, Slavic, and German surnames, many of which if not most, originated somewhere north (or perhaps west) of Texas. There are also a good number of native Texans such as myself as well as native English speakers of Hispanic decent.

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