Matovina said the bonds are so strong and meaningful that he has seen students at Notre Dame give up lucrative job opportunities after graduation and return to El Paso for the opportunity to continue volunteer work in the parish.
"Their Catholic faith calls them to do whatever they are called to do before material success," he said. "(Father Banuelas) just has it humming down there."
Other things that can connect Hispanics back to Catholicism even if they have left it, Walsh said, are the "social rhythms" of Hispanic life that often center around the church, such as baptisms, marriages and religious holidays.
Those strong familial and cultural ties are leading factors that will keep levels of disaffiliation among Hispanics below the current 20 percent found among all Americans, Walsh predicted.
"I was raised Catholic. I have a cousin who’s a priest, so it’s rooted very much in who I am," she said, explaining how cultural aspects of Catholicism will always be a part of her life.
"This is an anchor of familiarity that has been passed down to you."
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