Rev. Virgilio Elizondo
Professor of Pastoral and Hispanic Theology
Areas of Expertise
The religious and cultural life of Latinos in the U.S.
Known as the father of U.S. Latino religious thought, Father Elizondo was presented Notre Dame’s highest honor, the Laetare Medal, in 1997. He has been a member of the Notre Dame faculty since 2002, the same year he was honored with a Hispanic Heritage award. Time magazine has hailed Father Elizondo as one of the leading spiritual innovators in the United States. Yet when he shares his beliefs about the connections between religion and people, everything begins with his memories of the grocery store his immigrant parents owned in San Antonio, where he spent most of his life. “I came from a neighborhood where no one thought I would make it out or amount to anything,” he said. “Even as a boy, I knew I wanted to do something good for the world.” Father Elizondo served for many years as pastor of San Fernando Cathedral. The Sunday Spanish Mass at which he presided became famous internationally when it was televised and carried via satellite from the cathedral to more than 1 million households. Father Elizondo became prominent as an advocate for underpaid and exploited Mexican-American laborers in his archdiocese during the early 1970s, and as an increasingly self-conscious Mexican-American community began to assert itself politically and culturally, he established the Mexican-American Cultural Center at Assumption Seminary. Father Elizondo speaks seven languages and has written numerous books, including “The Future is Mestizo,” “Galilean Journey,” and “The Human Quest.” For his work in advocating full inclusion and justice for immigrants, he received the 2007 Community of Christ International Peace Award, which has been ranked among the top 20 international, nongovernmental peace awards in the world and among the top seven in the U.S.