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Did you know that the Spanish Civil War of 1936 to 1939 affected our enrollment at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church? At this time, the majority of the Spanish-Cuban community in Ybor City were favorably disposed to the Republican cause which the Church, at that time, considered Communist supported. The cry of “¡No pasarán!” energized Ybor City much as the cause of “Cuba Libre” had done so 40 years previously. The community overwhelmingly supported the fight agains the fascist uprising led by General Francisco Franco, and many residents donated 10% of their salary and tons of old clothes to the Repub;ican cause. A cigar worker turned the slogan of the Republicans, ¡No pasarán! (they shall not pass), into a song which was sung at rallies in both Tampa and Spain.
Bishop Barry directed all the parishes in the diocese to hold special collection for the families of the National forces in Spain led by General Franco. A boycott of the parish resulted, and the school experienced immediate drop in enrollment. The Masses had only a sprinkling of worshipers. The parishioners picketed the church and school.
In time, the wounds healed, although in speaking with some seniors in Ybor City, some still hold a grudge against our church.
We should learn from history and be, as a community of faith, open to all our parishioners, no matter their political stand.
Written by Stan Kutz
*Patrick Joseph Barry DD (November 15, 1868-August 12, 1940) was an Irish-born prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of St. Augustine from 1922 until his death in 1940.
Source: Icon of Love, by Gus Rodriguez and https://scholar.smu.edu/
If you would like an article in the Parish Corner, please contact Stan Kutz, editor.