Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States and CRS

Photo by Karen Kasmauski for CRS

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Each year, the United States honors the contributions that Latinos have made to our country with a Hispanic Heritage Month celebration that runs from September 15 to October 15. During this annual celebration, the contributions and achievements of Hispanics/Latinos in the US are honored as well as their culture and traditions.

Image by Guy Arceneaux/CRS

On August 17, 1988, President Ronald Reagan stretched the celebrations to a month, from September 15 to October 15.

National Hispanic Heritage Month is observed in the United States, Canada, and Latin America. September 15 was chosen as the start date in order to coincide with the Independence Day celebrations of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile observe their independence on September 16 and September 18, respectively.

Catholic Relief Services recognizes that about 40% of the Hispanics in the U.S. are Catholic and is honored to join in celebrating and paying tribute to the diversity of cultures and accomplishments within the Latino community. The support of Latinos is crucial to our work as the official international humanitarian agency of the U.S. Catholic community.

CRS has been intimately linked with Latin America throughout the organization's history. In fact, our very first project in 1943 began when Colonia Santa Rosa, in Guanajuato, Mexico, gave shelter to 709 Polish refugees that we helped place. This began a shared history that continues more than 75 years later. Then, as now, our mission was to assist the poor and suffering on the basis of need, without regard to creed, race or nationality. Find out more about CRS' work in Latin America.

Throughout the history of the United States, people have come from various parts of the globe and have contributed to build this nation where we live today. Commemorating Hispanic Heritage Month gives us an opportunity not only to feel proud of our roots, but also to share with those who are not Hispanic the richness and diversity of the various Latin American cultures.

CRS praises the achievements of Hispanics in the US, while remembering those most vulnerable around the world. In this case, particularly those in Latin America, where families have been forced to flee their homes due to violence and poverty.

Hispanic Heritage: Facing the Same Challenges

Our Hispanic families, both in the United States and in their home countries, face the same challenges in some way: poverty, climate change and violence. Let's take a moment to reflect on everything we share now or shared at some point in our lives and realize how much we share, how much we overcome.

5 interesting Statistics about Hispanics in the US*

  1. The U.S. Hispanic population now stands at more than 58 million, making them the second-largest racial or ethnic group in the U.S.
  2. Hispanics make up 18% of the U.S. population. That's a 6 % increase since 1970.
  3. By 2060, the Hispanic population is projected to be 128.8 million, constituting approximately 31 % of the population.
  4. About 55% of Latino adults say they are Catholic, while 16% are evangelical Protestants and 5% are mainline Protestants (2013).
  5. 60% of Catholics under the age of 18 are Hispanic.

*Source: Pew Research Hispanic Trends Project Statistics & U.S. Census Bureau