This was my first freelance piece for NPR. I had moved to DC from Harrisonburg, VA and was interested in the way parts of the rural community were working to welcome and share resources and fellowship with the growing immigrant community. Most Hispanic immigrants in Harrisonburg were from Mexico, so it was easiest to rally a large turnout for events celebrating Mexican heritage.
“The Blessed Sacrament Church in Harrisonburg, Va. recently hosted the feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe — a vibrant celebration of Catholic tradition and Mexican culture. Hispanics make up one-third of the church’s congregation. When Father Tom Mattingly became the pastor here in 2005, the English- and Spanish-speaking communities at the church rarely mixed. Mattingly has set out to integrate the two communities.”