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Ellie Hidalgo :
31 article(s)

Ellie Hidalgo writes from Los Angeles.
January 8th, 2004
A Graffiti-Writing Ten-Year-Old Fixes His Mistake

Rushing out the door on my way to work, I was stopped cold by large yellow spray-painted letters: F-U-C-K. The word screamed from the white fence separating my apartment building from my neighbor’s home.
Worse yet, my car didn’t escape the graffiti. The trunk of my red Mazda now sported a couple yellow streaks.
The child villain?Occasionally, events happen to remind me I live in a big, scary, urban area. Unknown villains, who could care less about me, make their chilling presence felt.
But a couple days later my neighbor said she knew the identity of my city rogue. Rumors pointed to 10-year-old Stephen some five houses down.
What do I do now? I felt angry some punk kid could scar up my car and scare me with…

November 2nd, 2003
Nagging Doubts about Latin America's Famous Revolutionary

Does Cuba’s revolutionary and pop icon Ernesto “Che” Guevara truly inspire those of us working for peace and justice in the 21st century?
A recent photo exhibit in East Los Angeles suggests yes, but I’ve got nagging doubts.
The photos depict moments from those historic heady days when Fidel Castro, Che, and a small army of Cuban revolutionaries overthrew corrupt (and U.S.-backed) dictator Fulgencio Batista and installed Cuban-style communism on the tiny island.
The Argentine Robin Hood
For many Latinos in North and South America guerilla leader Che is a symbol of fighting Yanqui Imperialism and winning. He represents Latin America’s Robin Hood, overthrowing the rich to…

July 29th, 2003
Christian Faith Comes Alive on Pilgrimage in El Salvador

Summertime…and the living is on the go. This summer I headed south to El Salvador in Central America.
It’s a breathtakingly beautiful land country, but with a turbulent history that includes many modern-day Christian martyrs. The capital city, San Salvador, is a major Latin American pilgrimage stop.
San Salvador is not exactly Cancún—it’s not a fun vacation. But it is a deeply moving one—you get to know about some of the most courageous and extraordinary Catholics and people of faith of the last 30 years.
A few must see sites:Monseñor Oscar Romero’s house, next to Hospitalito Divina Providencia: Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador surprised the minority wealthy and the majority…

April 19th, 2003
Thirtysomething, Divorced, and Catholic

Down for the count
During his homily on World Marriage Day, the priest asked everyone who had been married less than a year to stand up. He then asked everyone married one to five years to also stand. Then five to 10 and so on, until he got to 50 plus married years. He looked around and paused. Slowly he said, “Now everyone who is married should be standing up, right?”
I knew why he was asking the question. I too was surprised. About half of the adults in the pews were still sitting. I was also sitting although technically still married. But in a few months my divorce would be final. And so I sat. I didn’t know I had so much company.
Looking around I thought, well some of these folks might be single, some widows…

April 10th, 2003
L.A. Faith Communities Celebrate Easter Their Way

I love the Easter rituals that help me connect with the emotion and significance of this holiest day of the year. So I felt particularly blessed to be present for two different sets of rites as Los Angeles faith communities celebrated Easter according to traditions old and new.
Bringing the river to the city
At St. Thomas the Apostle Church, a Latino parish near downtown Los Angeles, parishioners carrying white candles spilled out into the streets during the Easter Vigil Saturday night. They witnessed more than 30 youth and adults receive the sacrament of baptism and become initiated into the Catholic faith. They are called “the Elect” since it is Catholic belief that it is God who has chosen them to…

April 10th, 2003
Do Catholics need a Money Makeover?

Recently, I was talking with a group of socially conscious Catholic friends about money. The question came up, “How does being Catholic influence how we think about money?”
Our answers were revealing.
The bummer of bucks
One mentioned Jesus’ parable about it being easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get to heaven. Another noted that the disciples were asked to leave behind all their material possessions on the spot to follow Jesus. A third remembered Jesus overturning the merchants’ tables at the Temple because they were selling things (see box below).
No wonder many of us are operating in our current lives from the point of view that you’re…

March 21st, 2003
The Human Story of Oscar Romero: Memories in Mosaic

In Oscar Romero: Memories in Mosaic, editor Mar?a L?pez Vigil paints a collective portrait of the beloved prophet, pastor, consoler, and martyr of El Salvador.
Some 200 ordinary campesinos, priests, laity and even some wealthy people tell their personal stories and recollections of Msgr. Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador in the late 1970s. Most of the vignettes are less than a page long. Many tell fascinating and riveting stories of people’s work with the archbishop and show how El Salvador’s economic and political crisis was marching its people towards civil war.
The 423 page book published by EPICA is skillfully translated from Spanish into English by Kathy Ogle.
The scoop on his conversion…

March 19th, 2003
Reluctant Saint: Francis of Assisi

Sex, drugs, and mandolins. That pretty much describes the first half of Francis of Assisi’s life, says best-selling author David Spoto.
His book, Reluctant Saint: The Life of Francis of Assisi premieres as a TV special Palm Sunday, April 13, 7-8 p.m. EDT (check local listings) on cable’s Hallmark Channel .
Born in 1182 into a wealthy Italian textile family, Francis “spent half his life as a rather disgraceful playboy. Stranger to no excess, he began to experience a series of graces which began his conversion,” Spoto recently told a Los Angeles audience. The author has also written biographies about Alfred Hitchcock, Ingrid Bergman, Tennessee Williams, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.…

February 26th, 2003
Why L.A. Isn't Boston (the Real Reason)

The scandal moves to California
The epicenter of the Catholic priest sex abuse scandal is poised to move west to California. That’s because a new state law , effective Jan. 1, 2003, did away with the statute of limitations for one year, allowing victims to sue employers of known sexual molesters. More than 100 new lawsuits have already been filed against Catholic dioceses in California.
But will California Catholics respond with the same shock, outrage, and fury as Boston Catholics? Most bets are “no.” But I’m not buying it. What I’m not buying are the reasons being given for why California Catholics?and Los Angeles Catholics in particular?won’t take to the streets the…

February 12th, 2003
Kids Teach Us the Holy Art of Making Mistakes

As an adult I make mistakes several times a day and usually feel slightly bad about each one. My nieces and nephew—Cristina, age 8; Patrick, 5; and Carolina, 3—make a mistake every ten minutes.
Constant bloopersOne can’t quite pour a glass of water without spilling some of it. The other takes on a craft project, although she can’t paint completely within the lines. The other bats ten times for every hit and changes the rules so it’s the running that counts.
My nieces and nephew live in a world of constant bloopers and they are fine with that. It’s the only world they know—stretching, trying, falling, learning, creating, and trying again.
Of course, they periodically get frustrated…

February 9th, 2003
Will the Church Soon Oppose ALL War?

Jesus was all about non-violence as the way to transform your enemy?s heart. Modern warfare has other ideas about what to do with your enemy’s heart.
As the debate around pummeling Saddam Hussein into oblivion intensifies, where does faith play a role in helping each of us to reach a reflective position?
Saddam is clearly terribly irrational. Do you know another world leader who goes fishing by lobbing grenades into a lake? (See Uncle Saddam featured at the L.A. Amnesty International Film Festival .)
But our Catholic faith has a 1,700 year old tradition defending just wars to take care of people like him, right?
St. Augustine came up with Just War theology in the fourth century to discourage Christians from…

January 19th, 2003
Addressing the Reasons Women Choose Abortion

I was eight years old when on Jan. 22, 1973 , the U.S. Supreme Court made abortion legal throughout the country.
Growing up in a post-Roe v. Wade world, I listened to friends who had chosen an abortion rather than risk losing their chance to get a college education and the better jobs that came with an education.
I witnessed the miraculous and precious births of two of my goddaughters.
I stood by a cousin who at 15 became a mother.
I heard the stories of women who endured childhood emotional and sexual abuse, which later resulted in young adult promiscuity, unwanted pregnancies, and abortions.
And like most Americans and many Catholics, I feel uneasy about the complexities of abortion.
Pro-choice women talk about reproductive…

December 25th, 2002
A World of Traditions for Welcoming the Savior

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic-Throughout the years people from diverse cultures have developed many festive customs in preparation for Christmas. Among the most popular back home in the U.S. are putting up the Christmas tree, stringing lights outside the home or apartment, watching favorite animated videos, Christmas caroling, and sending annual Christmas cards to family and friends.
Other cultural traditions focus on gathering with family and friends in anticipation of the arrival of Jesus the Savior into the world.
The Mexican celebration of Las Posadas commemorates Mary and Joseph looking for a place to sleep in Bethlehem. Posadas means lodging. From Dec. 16 to Dec. 24, people process through…

November 20th, 2002
Women with and without Kids

Most women raise children. And some don’t. Those of us who don’t set sail for a different kind of life. Is the journey a chosen one or not? Are you a woman if you don’t have kids?
For Denise Carlson not having children was something that just happened. She traveled, focused on her career, was involved in theatre for a long time. In Los Angeles, she currently develops movies for the Disney Channel. Her 20s and 30s whizzed by.
“I’ve had a great time,” Denise says. “I got to have an extended youth. I didn’t have to take care of anyone but myself.”
Saying she’s a late bloomer, the mother question now tugs at her. After a friend adopted, she started thinking…

November 20th, 2002
Recent Immigrants Remember Their First Thanksgiving

Like the original Pilgrims who were themselves newcomers to this continent, Thanksgiving is best understood through the eyes of more recent immigrants hundreds of years later.
My Cuban dad says he liked the holiday from the start. A young man in his early 20s, he was living with his family in Georgia after they left Cuba because of political turmoil. During his first Thanksgiving more than 40 years ago, volunteers from their new parish knocked on the door. In their hands they carried a turkey and a basket of goodies.
“I immediately liked Thanksgiving,” says my dad, Manuel Hidalgo. Free food!
More importantly for my father, the food was brought by people who were welcoming him and his family to their…

November 20th, 2002
Women with and without Kids

Most women raise children. And some don’t. Those of us who don’t set sail for a different kind of life. Is the journey a chosen one or not? Are you a woman if you don’t have kids?
For Denise Carlson not having children was something that just happened. She traveled, focused on her career, was involved in theatre for a long time. In Los Angeles, she currently develops movies for the Disney Channel. Her 20s and 30s whizzed by.
“I’ve had a great time,” Denise says. “I got to have an extended youth. I didn’t have to take care of anyone but myself.”
Saying she’s a late bloomer, the mother question now tugs at her. After a friend adopted, she started thinking…

November 3rd, 2002
Salma Hayek as Mexican painter Frida Kahlo in Julie Taymor's Mesmerizing Film

Salma Hayek beautifully portrays the joys and anguish of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo in Frida (Miramax).
The film reveals the gutsy-ness, persistence, brilliance, and pain of one of Mexico’s most renowned artists.
A promising and charming 18-year-old university student, Frida’s life takes an unexpected tragic turn when a 1925 trolley crash leaves her spine broken and leg mangled. Up to her chest in a body cast, her family is uncertain Frida will ever walk again. Determined to live?even from the confines of her bed?Frida energetically paints self-portraits by looking into a mirror her parents rig for her.
In time she succeeds in walking again. And soon Frida persuades established muralist Diego…

November 1st, 2002
In Mexican Tradition All Souls Day is Dia de los Muertos

This autumn one group of Americans has chosen their Halloween costumes and bought candy. Another group is painting skulls and looking through scrapbooks for favorite pictures of dead relatives.
All Souls Day is the Catholic holiday commemorated on November 2, following All Saints Day the day before. But in Mexican and Mexican-American culture, Nov. 2 is also known as Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos?a celebration to honor relatives and ancestors who have passed away.
Dia de los Muertos honors the continuous cycle of life and death, says Marisol Torres, an art teacher at Self-Help Graphics in East Los Angeles. People of all ages make papier-mach? skulls, bright yellow tissue flowers, and Mexican decorative…

October 31st, 2002
A Chicken, a Plastic Pumpkin, and the Challenge of Loving Your Neighbor

In a family room filled with children and toys—dolls, blocks, puzzles and board games—was my brother Manny’s big orange plastic Halloween pumpkin.
Living in a Midwestern suburb in Illinois, this pumpkin’s toy life was predictable and ordinary. A place to store hot wheel cars or markers. And our Catholic school lives and weekly Mass attendance were predictable and ordinary too, punctuated with the usual celebrations of Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter.
That is until my parents announced our move to Miami, Florida. The five of us kids packed our clothes, books, and toys, including the pumpkin.
There were plenty of new things to see and do in Miami—sand to run in, ocean waves…

August 1st, 2002
23 Defect at World Youth Day in Toronto - Right in Front of My Face

The Cuban exile now living in Canada told the Cubans at the World Youth Day celebrations in Toronto: “If there is any way I can help you at all, please let me know.”
Ismael Sambra spoke these words to a group of young adult Cubans at a picnic I attended during the pope�s visit there. I thought Sambra was just showing some northern hospitality.
I totally missed it. Actually he was offering passage on Toronto’s underground railroad for freedom-seeking Catholic Cubans. Political asylum. The picnic was July 27. On July 28, it was reported that some 23 of the 200 Cubans attending World Youth Day had defected.
Ismael Sambra, in interviews, said he was coordinating safe housing and legal aid for them…

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