De la Iglesia a Servir el Pueblo

The Role of Religious Leaders in Serving Latino Immigrant Families


  • Anayeli Lopez New Mexico State University
  • Rene Galindo School of Education and Human Development, University of Colorado Denver
  • Ruben P. Viramontez Anguiano School of Education and Human Development, University of Colorado Denver
  • Marianna Corkill School of Social Work, New Mexico State University
  • Jennifer Jacob-Bellowe School of Education and Human Development, University of Colorado Denver
  • Yesenia Weaver



Latino immigrant families, Latino religious leaders, emerging immigrant destinations, functions of the Latino church, religious social capital, COVID-19


Without initial resources and support in place for newcomer immigrant families, municipalities and service providers in new destination communities struggle to address social, economic, and educational needs of Latino immigrants and their families. The present study explored the role of churches and religious leaders in addressing the social, economic, and educational needs of Latino families in an emerging immigrant destination community. The study draws from in-depth interviews with five Latino religious leaders (e.g., Catholic priests and evangelical pastors) and Catholic laity. Thematic analysis was used to identify themes in the narrative data. Results illustrate Latino churches and religious leaders provided religious social capital (e.g., information, social and spiritual support) and served as cultural and language brokers (e.g., interpreter of language and culture). This study provides important implications and recommendations for social workers on how they can partner with religious leaders to serve Latino immigrant families in a timely, effective, and culturally sensitive manner.


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