Paige Schaefer, Computer Science, BMC ’23

Paige completed an alternative assignment and reflected about the documentary “Adelante”

The film “Adelante” follows the activities of St. Patrick’s Church in Norristown, PA portraying the lives of a vast group of church goers. The film explores the lives of an Irish priest, young Mexican immigrants and older Irish members of the church who have immigrant ancestors. The film shows how different communities in Norristown have made mutual adjustments to create bonds of understanding. We see how Americans of Irish descent accept and embrace a new group of immigrants. We also see the Mexican immigrants establish new lives in a foreign country, laying down roots in a place without their own family and support networks. These two groups form relations and intertwine their lives. We see how celebrations from both Irish descent and Mexican descent both are celebrated by each group through the church in an atmosphere of collaboration.

Something valuable to note in this film is the relationship between the two groups of worshippers of the St. Patrick’s Church. There is a mutualistic relationship between the two groups where each group benefits from each other. In the beginning of the film, we see the number of individuals who attend the predominantly Irish catholic church slowly diminishing until the large influx of Mexican migrants start to attend the church. The Mexican migrants help the church to remain popular and have large attendances at events. The Mexican migrants bring life and flourishment to the church. As the film goes on, we see how Mexican migrants benefit from the church and form a community in Norristown. The church creates a space for migrants to celebrate their religious practices in a safe space as well as be a place where migrants can take classes to help themselves assimilate into their new life in America. We see how daily church masses are programed in Spanish and English creating a blend of the two groups.

I believe the relationship between the Irish American church goers and the Mexican migrants in Norristown provide a framework for how all of America should interact with Mexican migrants. Many of the Irish worshippers talk of their ancestors and their ancestors’ struggles migrating to America many years ago. I think the Irish church goers experiencing many similarities between their families and the Mexican migrants cause for the harmony to have such a strong bond between the two groups. Many individuals in America have preconceived notions about Mexican migrants, either of them being criminals or how they will steal jobs from Americans. Mexican migrants don’t want to inhabit the United States, they are here because there is no other way for them to support themselves and their families in Mexico. Key American values are that our identity is a “melting pot” but this melting pot only applies to European immigrants who immigrated to America fifty years ago or later. I think those who do not support Mexican migration need to take a step back and understand why Mexicans are immigrating to the United States. These reasons are very similar to why the ancestors of current Americans migrated. Through this step back and realization a harmony can start to be established and developed.