Date of Award


Document Type



Santa Clara : Santa Clara University, 2019.

Degree Name

Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL)


Eduardo C. Fernández


When children of Catholic immigrants leave their families and ethnic Catholic communities for multiethnic colleges, they often encounter a sense of alienation. As this experience challenges their sense of identity, the resources typically available on their respective campuses either offer a de-ethnicized version of their religious identity or a secularized version of their ethnic identity. College ethnic Catholic communities offer them a space where they can explore the intersection of their faith and ethnicity, selectively integrate and adapt aspects of their ethnoreligious heritage received from their families and faith communities, and construct a second generation ethnoreligious identity.

Through interviews, surveys, and participant observation, this thesis will describe how six predominantly Asian American and Latino college ethnic Catholic communities from both Catholic and public universities in the Western and Midwestern U.S. provide their members with a spiritual home in college. In this family-like environment, members are reconnected with ethnoreligious traditions, find the support they need to face the challenges of college life, and internalize their faith in their own second-generation way.

Furthermore, these communities foster the expression of their ethnoreligious identity not only amongst their members but also in their broader campus environments. These expressions often take the form of popular devotions, which students are able to plan and lead in a way that is true to their newfound identity. In contrast to the monocultural and often monolingual ethnic churches where students were first introduced to these devotions, these reinvented traditions serve as intercultural bridges that enable the sharing of their ethnoreligious identity, which speaks to the promise that these communities may hold for a more intercultural U.S. Catholic Church.

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Religion Commons