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LAS HERMANAS

LAS HERMANAS. Las Hermanas, a national organization for Hispanic Catholic women (lay and religious), was founded in 1970 in Houston by Gloria Gallardo, S.H.G., and Gregoria Ortega, O.L.V.M. Gallardo and Ortega began by requesting the names of Mexican-American women religious from bishops throughout the country and from the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. Two months later Gallardo and Ortega sent a letter inviting women to come to Houston. Fifty Mexican-American women representing various religious communities arrived in Houston in April 1971. They decided to form a national organization called Las Hermanas; the first charter was granted by the state of Texas on February 22, 1972. At that first meeting in Houston the women set forth guidelines that would determine the organization's national agenda for the next twenty years. These guidelines included establishing a clearinghouse of information to increase awareness of the needs of the community; working for social change; training organization and community members in leadership; and exerting pressure on the Catholic hierarchy to help achieve organization goals. The first national meeting was held in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in November 1971. Before this meeting the national office had been established in Houston, and membership contacts had been made in twenty-one states. At the second national meeting (in Chicago, August 1972), Las Hermanas moved to a team form of government, drawing on the experience of the women who had just returned from the Latin American Pastoral Institute. Very early in its history, Las Hermanas opened up its membership and voting rights to all Hispanic Catholic women, regardless of country of origin. Laywomen were elected to serve on the national team. The Latin American Pastoral Institute experience helped to shape the agenda for Hermanas activities nationwide. The national office worked diligently on Proyecto Mexico, a project designed to get religious women from Mexico out of United States seminary kitchens and into direct contact with people in the parishes. Hermanas were strongly committed to the comunidades de base concept; the United Farmworkers received support at national meetings and in national boycotts and demonstrations; Hermanas were part of the staff at the Mexican American Cultural Center and served on the board of directors. Between 1972 and 1988 the national office was regularly moved to wherever one of the national team members was working. In 1988 the national board of directors selected San Antonio as the permanent site of the national office. By the early 1990s the national office was located in that city on the campus of Our Lady of the Lake University at its Center for Women in Church and Society. In 1995 Las Hermanas had a number of local groups in Texas and across the United States. These groups organized activities and held conferences relating to regional issues affecting women. National meetings were held every two years at different sites across the United States. From its San Antonio office, Las Hermanas published a quarterly newsletter called Informes. The publication had a circulation of more than 1,000 to members and nonmembers. In the early 1990s the archives of Las Hermanas were in the Special Collections section of the library at Our Lady of the Lake University.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

San Antonio News, April 6, 1971. Antonio M. Stevens Arroyo, ed., Prophets Denied Honor: An Anthology on the Hispano Church of the United States (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1980).

María Eva Flores, C.D.P.

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

María Eva Flores, C.D.P., "LAS HERMANAS," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/ixl03), accessed August 22, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.