Religion and Spirituality in the Chicano Movement: Las Hermanas & P.A.D.R.E.S. Collection (1971-1994)

Material Description

The Las Hermanas-P.A.D.R.E.S. (Padres Asociados por Derechos Educativos y Sociales) Collection was donated to the Center for Mexican American Studies in the early 1990s by the national leadership team of Las Hermanas and in 2012 by the founder of P.A.D.R.E.S, Ralph Ruiz. The records are currently housed in the Research Collections site of the Center for Mexican American Studies and Research (CMASR).

Las Hermanas, a national organization for Hispanic Catholic women (lay and religious), was founded in 1970 in Houston. In 1971, the first meeting of Las Hermanas hosted fifty Mexican American women representing various religious communities to define the national agenda for the next twenty years. This agenda included: establishing a clearinghouse of information to increase awareness of the needs of the community; working for social change; training organization and community members in leadership; and exerting pressure on the Catholic hierarchy to help achieve organization goals.

Before the collection came to OLLU, the organization's correspondence, newsletters, photographs, and reports from their national meetings moved around the country to reside with the organization's elected leadership. As leadership changed the records moved, resulting in loss and deterioration. The surviving records were donated to OLLU for preservation, digitization, and dissemination.

Records document the early development and continuing influence of Las Hermanas and its strides to reorient the male-dominated structure of both the Catholic ministry and the Chicano civil rights movement. Digitizing the archive will increase access to records showing how Las Hermanas engaged issues of moral authority, sexuality, and domestic abuse through grassroots community organizing and education to articulate the redefined spiritually- and politically-grounded Latina/Chicana identity.

The P.A.D.R.E.S. (3 boxes) material serves as a companion to the larger Las Hermanas collection, documenting their intersection of advocacy activities during Chicano and Latino civil rights movements and the contrasting approaches to women's issues.


The Center for Mexican American Studies at Our Lady of the Lake University acquired the "Religion and Spirituality in the Chicano Movement: The Las Hermanas/P.A.D.R.E.S. Collection (1971-1994)" in 1994. The collection exists currently in hard copies and a small number of researcher-requested PDFs. Researchers accessing the records in person cite the early development and continuing influence of Las Hermanas/P.A.D.R.E.S. (Padres Asociados por Derechos Educativos y Socialesand) as critical to addressing the lack Chicana and Latina research material available for scholarly research and instruction in Theology, U.S. History, Chicano/a Studies, and Mexican American Studies. This project will digitize correspondence, newsletters, reports of national meetings, and photographs from the collection, making metadata and digital surrogates accessible to the public via an innovative mobile-optimized and geo-located website, which will also serve as a digital archive, exhibit, and device for expanding the collection as additional material becomes available.


Digitizing Hidden Collections

Amount Awarded


Year Added



Our Lady of the Lake University of San Antonio


  • Dr. Maria Eva Flores (Our Lady of the Lake University)
  • Dr. Cody
  • Dr.

Date Range

1971 - 1997

Geographic Scope

Las Hermanas was founded in Houston, Texas, with state chapters in New York, Colorado, California, Florida, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. P.A.D.R.E.S was founded as a national organization in 1970 in San Antonio, Texas; membership/activities proliferated in the southwestern states where Mexican and Mexican American priests and lay-Hermanas ministered.


  • 50 Mixed Archival Collections