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Latin-American Chaplaincy, London

n the capital of the United Kingdom the Hispanic emigration is relatively recent and diverse, with an economic motivation. They calculate that there are some 300,000 people, many arriving as tourists and students and who stay after the visa runs out.

Activities of the Latin American Chaplaincy in London. Activities of the Latin American Chaplaincy in London.

London is divided into two Catholic dioceses, Southwark and Westminster. In both a large number of Latin Americans crowd together and are seen to be in predicament: they don´t have anyone who speaks Spanish. The Church turned to the Province of Saint Nicholas, who had for thirty years had houses in the country. They set up the Latin American Chaplaincy with Spanish religious and other British or Irish who had studied in Spain.

At the beginning the activity in the Chaplaincy was unsettled. Five parishes in the territories of both dioceses took in their meetings and celebrations. The chaplains made use of the network of public transport the houses, hospitals and prisons.

Very quickly the Chaplaincy took form and the Vicar of England, after years of reflection and discussion, decided to prioritize this ministry. There was a restructuration to attend to it from a stable base, in the same way as the other twenty national chaplaincies in London. The parish of Saint Anne´s, in the district of Vauxhall, in the diocese of Southwark, seemed to be the appropriate place as a permanent base: of multiethnic population, with good communication, ample facilities and a parish school included.

There are three factors that bring together the Latin Americans in London: language, culture and religion. Although they come from eighteen countries and different cultures, they feel the same about the local culture. With the overwhelming arrival of immigrants the necessities have become urgent, and especially that of information: places to meet, work availability, schools that accept their children, hospitals where they can be attended to, how and where to live their catholic faith, legal rights...

The Chaplaincy is set up as an ecclesiastical structure that supports them in these needs. It allows them to have place of reference to go to, which eases their group identification and their insertion into the larger society. One of the challenges is to maintain their own identity, more so when there are no times or places in which it can be expressed.

Each year, on the 12th of October, they celebrate Day of the Americas, with the participation of local political representatives and embassies; it also has been a custom the participation of religious authorities of the Province of Saint Nicholas of Tolentino. A festival which is united with religious celebration, that marks the annual encounter of those who during the rest of the year meet in smaller and more remote groups.

The Chinese chaplaincy in the Archdiocese of Madrid
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