The etymology of “Hispanic” goes back to “Hispania” during the Roman Empire. Hispania was the region comprising the Iberian Peninsula, now occupied by Portugal and Spain. When those countries conquered America, their culture and influence spread from modern day United States to Argentina. Another fact: St. Augustine in Florida was established as a Spanish fort in 1565, the first permanent European settlement in the United States before the English settlement of Jamestown in Virginia later in 1607. The oldest and active government building in the United States is “La Fortaleza”, the house of the governor of Puerto Rico.
When it comes to reporting their racial/ethnic identity, Latinos stand out from other Americans. In the 2010 census, for example, 94% of the U.S. population selected at least one of the five standard, government-defined racial categories – white, black, Asian, American Indian or Pacific Islander. But among Latinos, just 63% selected at least one of these categories; 37% of Latinos, or 19 million, instead selected only “some other race,” with many offering write-in responses such as “Mexican,” Hispanic” or “Latin American.” In my case I have used “Hispanic”, “White-Hispanic” (when it is an option), “Latino”, and “Puerto Rican.” All of these categories of course can lead to interesting conversations since “Hispanic” or “Latino” could mean different things to different people.
Today, 57.5 million people or 18% of the American population are of Hispanic or Latino origin. This represents a significant increase from 2000, which registered the Hispanic population at 35.3 million or 13% of the total U.S. population. Here in Virginia the “Hispanic population in Virginia is the 15th largest in the nation. About 732,000 Hispanics reside in Virginia, 1.3% of all Hispanics in the United States.”
During National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 to October 15) I ask for your prayers on behalf of my ministry to our siblings in Christ in our diocese. You can also share in this special annual tribute by learning and celebrating the generations of Hispanic and Latino Americans who have positively influenced and enriched our nation and society. We are your neighbors, friends, co-workers, doctors, fellow veterans, and those of us that come into your life for only a moment. Blessings to all of you.
Gracias, The Rev. (Padre) Mario
Missioner for Latino/a/x Ministries
 Gonzalez-Barrera, Ana and Hugo-Lopez, Mark. “Is being Hispanic a matter of race, ethnicity or both?” Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/06/15/is-being-hispanic-a-matter-of-race-ethnicity-or-both/
 Pew Research Center: Hispanic Trends. “Latinos in the 2016 Election: Virginia” Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/hispanic/fact-sheet/latinos-in-the-2016-election-virginia/