Pine Bluff Arsenal observed Hispanic Heritage Month with a guest speaker and luncheon Oct. 28 at the Arsenal’s Community Club. The guest speaker was Rev. Anil Thomas, pastor at St. Peters Catholic Church and St. Rafael Catholic Church in Pine Bluff, as well as St. Justin Catholic Church in Star City.

Pine Bluff Arsenal observed Hispanic Heritage Month with a guest speaker and luncheon Oct. 28 at the Arsenal’s Community Club. The guest speaker was Rev. Anil Thomas, pastor at St. Peters Catholic Church and St. Rafael Catholic Church in Pine Bluff, as well as St. Justin Catholic Church in Star City.


Welton Boyce, Hispanic Program Manager for PBA via the Equal Employment Opportunity Office, said that National Hispanic Heritage Month is annually observed Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.


"We are so happy to see all of you here today. We are here to observe this special month," said Boyce, as he read from a proclamation issued by President Barack Obama. "Nearly 50 years ago, the United States observed what was known as National Hispanic Heritage Week. Hispanics represent a vibrant and thriving part of our diverse nation."


The month’s theme is "A Legacy of History, a Present of Action, and a Future of Success."


Thomas offered his thanks for being asked to come speak during this celebration of Hispanic heritage.


"I am an Indian-born Catholic priest working among Hispanics for the last nine years," Thomas said. "The Catholic Church is very influential among the Hispanics. Most define as Catholics and the ‘padre’ is a very important spiritual person in their lives," he said.


He said that the month is observed each year by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose forefathers came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.


"The observation started in 1968. The observance was enacted into law in 1988. September 15 is significant because the anniversary of independence of Latin American countries including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua. Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence Sept. 16 and 18, he said.


We know that the United States is a land of immigrants, Thomas said.


"It has been a promised land for many people. People came to this land for a better life for themselves and their families," he said. "When the people came to this country, they brought their culture. Culture is part and parcel of human beings. When the Hispanics came to this country, they brought their culture."