Saturday, August 24, 2019

Solidaridad – Dr. Antonio Soto

El Dr. Antonio Soto fue un hombre de muchos intereses y una variedad de carreras. Fue Profesor en la Escuela de Servicio Social de la Universidad Estatal de San José, autor de libros que fueron publicados por más de treinta años, activista y voluntario de la comunidad. A su haber tuvo, también, una larga carrera de veinticinco años como sacerdote en la Iglesia Católica.

Fue un hombre “el primero” en muchas cosas. Fue el primer Presidente de la Junta del Centro de Entrenamiento de Empleos. Después de la Guerra entre los Estados Unidos y México – 1846 – 48 la Iglesia Americana remplazó rápidamente a los pastores hispanos con americanos europeos. En 1962 el Dr. Soto se convirtió en el primer pastor chicano en la historia del Condado de Santa Clara. Él ayudó a organizar el primer programa de diáconos chicanos en California. Durante la década de los años cincuentas, mientras trabajaba con los braceros, él ya oficiaba la misa de frente a la congregación, con el objeto de promover un sentido de comunidad entre las personas. La Iglesia no aprobó esta práctica de uso general hasta después de 1965.

Dr. Antonio Soto

Dr. Antonio Soto

La histórica marcha de los trabajadores del campo en 1965, dirigida por César Chávez desde Delano a Sacramento, incluyó al Dr. Soto y a un grupo de personas de San José. En 1967, debido a que él estaba interesado en conseguir que las personas pudiesen mantenerse económicamente por sí mismas, el Dr. Soto ayudó a fundar un programa de entrenamiento llamado CET (Centro de Entrenamiento para Empleos), en el cual sirvió como Presidente de la Junta. CET ha entrenado y puesto a trabajar, a miles de personas de escasos recursos económicos.

Durante la construcción del Centro de Presentaciones Artísticas (Center for Performing Arts), el Dr. Soto practicó desobediencia civil con el objeto de conseguir trabajos para las minorías. Él, junto con otros 30 chicanos, fue apresado durante la protesta. Como resultado de esa acción, la Ciudad de San José adoptó una ordenanza requiriendo cláusulas de Acción Afirmativa en todos sus contratos.

En 1961 el Dr. Soto fue nombrado primer director del movimiento de Cursillo en California. El Cursillo era un programa de entrenamiento intensivo de liderazgo que duraba tres días y que estaba basado en acción social y spiritual. Comenzó como un movimiento entre gente hispano parlante y fue introducido en California por el Padre Don McDonnell, Reynaldo Flores, entre otros.

El Dr. Antonio Soto fue el pastor fundador de la Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. La parroquia, principalmente para personas méxico-americanas, fue establecida en 1962. Había funcionado como una capilla desde comienzos de 1950, bajo el liderazgo del sacerdote McDonnell y Reynaldo Flores. En 1967, bajo la dirección del Dr. Soto, los feligreses se organizaron ellos mismos en grupos de construcción y elevaron la iglesia actual, que está ubicada en la calle Este de San Antonio. Esta iglesia se convirtió en un centro importante para la Guerra contra la Pobreza. La reforma de la Iglesia fue iniciada antes del Segundo Vaticano, a través de concilios de parroquias y liturgias innovativas. Fue allí donde se detuvo Robert Kennedy para asistir a la primera “Misa folclórica” en 1968, pocas semanas antes de su asesinato.

“Se cuenta mi historia porque estuve en una posición visible”, comentó el Dr. Soto. “Existen muchas personas de las cuales no se conoce y cuyas historias deberían ser narradas. Entre ellas está Frances Escalante, Ernestina García, Jack Ibarra, Jorge Pineiro, José Vásquez y muchos otros. Menos conocidos fueron Ramona Sariñana, Jerry y Sally Sánchez, Josie Sánchez, Benito Alcaraz, Ernie y Sara Segovia, Phil y Florence Márquez, Ben y Helen Gonzales, Toby y Lupe Tobías, Nick y Lila Santos y una larga lista de muchos más”.

El Dr. Antonio Soto nació en Tucson, Arizona el 22 de octubre de 1921. Fue descendiente de un linaje familiar que estuvo establecido en esa área desde antes de 1848, cuando las tropas americanas invadieron ese territorio. Como resultado de la conquista y de un plumazo, el área que se conocía como el norte de Sonora, México, se convirtió en Arizona, propiedad de los Estados Unidos.

En 1935 Soto dejó Arizona para ingresar a los seminarios franciscanos en California. Entre 1950 y 1961 fue profesor de filosofía y ciencias sociales en el Colegio San Luis Rey, el seminario mayor de la Orden. Ya que el colegio estaba ubicado en la Misión San Luis Rey, Antonio Soto sintió que el área era rica en tesoros arqueológicos. Por lo tanto, dirigió a sus estudiantes en un proyecto que resultó en el descubrimiento de muchos artefactos y objetos de siglos anteriores. Rápidamente descubrieron un jardín hundido, construído por los indígenas del valle que se encuentra más abajo de la Misión. Tenía escalones de baldosas y acueductos, que habían desaparecido después que se terminó el sistema de misiones en 1830.

En 1950, él obtuvo su maestría en sociología, título concedido por la Universidad Católica en Washington, D.C. Después de cumplir los 25 años de sacerdocio se retiró de las estructuras formales y empezó una nueva carrera como academico matriculándose en la Universidad de California, en Berkeley. Allí se mantuvo económicamente enseñando y en 1978 obtuvo su doctorado en sociología.

“He sido muy afortunado que cada etapa de mi vida haya resultado en la ampliación de círculos y oportunidades”, declaró él. “Siempre he buscado servir a la gente a través de nuevas formas”. Una experiencia culminante ocurrió en 1974 cuando él y Phyllis Armas se casaron en la Iglesia de Guadalupe. Ambos estuvieron siempre envueltos en la educación, trabajo comunitario y en reformas institucionales.

El Dr. Soto fue vicepresidente de la Federación de Ministros Cristianos, un grupo nacional que busca que las personas estén al tanto de sus opciones tanto dentro como fuera de la religión institucional. En esta área él promovía la formación de pequeñas comunidades internacionales de nuevas formas como la “comunidad de base”, un movimiento en Latinoamérica. En búsqueda de alternativas, él y su esposa, Phyllis, viajaron a Cuba, China y Centro América. El Dr. Soto también asistió a una reunión de comunidades pequeñas en Oxford, Inglaterra.

Autor del libro El Chicano y la Iglesia, publicó aparte más de veinte artículos, la mayoría de ellos en la historia y cultura chicana. Uno de sus últimos trabajos enfocó en los trabajadores mexicanos en las minas de mercurio de Nuevo Almadén, al sur de San José. Las cuevas, usadas por mucho tiempo por los indígenas del valle, fueron descubiertas como fuente de mercurio en 1846, por los oficiales del ejército mexicano. Para 1860 las minas ocupaban un segundo lugar de producción de mercurio en el mundo, empleando alrededor de 2,000 trabajadores, la mayoría mexicanos. El Dr. Soto lo llamaba “El major secreto escondido del Condado de Santa Clara”. Él también deploraba la negligencia de la entonces administración de la ciudad y del condado, sobre las contribuciones históricas de los mexicanos. Citaba como ejemplo los planes del centro de San José y el Parque del Río Guadalupe, los cuales carecían de cualquier vestigio de la contribución histórica de los mexicanos en el área.

El trabajo del Dr. Antonio Soto fue reconocido. Recibió premios de diferentes grupos. Entre ellos el Premio Martin Luther King, Jr. (Conferencia Nacional de Cristinanos y Judíos, 1988); premio de Relaciones Humanas, 1966; Liga de Anti Difamación de B’Nai B’Rith; Centro de Oportunidades de Industrialización (premio de la Antorcha Nacional, 1975), y de la Iglesia (Papa Paul VI en 1972). La Corporación de Desarrollo Humano de California le entregó el Premio Azteca de Oro en 1986 y concedió el nombre de Antonio Soto a uno de los centro de entrenamiento en Santa Rosa.

Él deseaba continuar enseñando y dedicar su tiempo al desarrollo de liderazgo y de la comunidad, particularmente entre las personas de las minorías. El Dr. Antonio Soto comentaba: “la energía positiva que existe allá afuera es mucho más fuerte que lo negativo, pero a menudo no se la expone al público. Necesitamos un mayor número de modelos que inspiren a nuestra juventud”. © Mary J. Andrade.

 

<English version>

 

Dr. Antonio Soto

Dr. Antonio Soto

El Dr. Antonio Soto was a man of many interests and a variety of careers. He was a professor in the School of Social Work, San Jose State University, a publisher, and for over thirty years a community activist and volunteer. He also had a long career of twenty-five years as a priest in the Catholic Church.

He was a man of many “firsts.” He was the first board chairman of the Center for Employment Training. In 1962, he became the first Chicano pastor inn the history of Santa Clara County. When de American Church took over after the United States, Mexican War of 1846-48, it soon replaced Hispanic pastors with European Americans. He helped initiate the first Chicano deacon program in California. Back in the 1950’s, while working among the Braceros, he was already saying Mass facing the people in order to promote community with the people. The Church did not sanction this for general use until after 1965.

The historic march of farm-workers led by Cesar Chavez from Delano to Sacramento in 1965 included Soto and a group of people from San Jose. In 1967, because he was interested in getting people to become self-supporting, Soto helped found the job-training program called CET (Center for Employment Training). He was a board chairman. CET has trained and placed thousands poor in good jobs.

In 1969, Dr. Soto practiced civil disobedience in order to obtain job for minorities during the construction of the Center for the Performing Arts. He and thirty other Chicanos were arrested during the protest. As a result the City of san Jose adopted and ordinance requiring affirmative action clauses in all of its contracts.

In 1961, Soto was named the first director of the Cursillo movement in California. The Cursillo was an intensive three-day leadership-training program that is based on spirituality and social action. It began as a movement among Spanish speaking people and was introduced into California by Fr. Don McDonnell, Reynaldo Flores, and another group of people.

He was the founding pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church. The parish, mainly for Mexican-American people, was established in 1962. It had functioned as a chapel since the early 1950’s under the leadership of Fr. McDonnell and Reynaldo Flores. By 1967, under Soto direction, the people had organized themselves into volunteer construction crews and built the present church on East San Antonio Street. This Church became an important center for those affected by War and Poverty. Church reform was initiated before Vatican II through parish councils and innovative liturgies. It was here that Robert Kennedy stopped to attend the first “Folk Mass” in 1968, just a few weeks before his assassination.

“My story is being told because I was in a visible position,” says Soto. “There are many little known people whose story should also be told. Among them were Frances Escalante, Ernestina García, Jack Ibarra, Jorge Pineiro, José Vásquez an others. Less known were Ramona Sariñana, Max Moreno, Jerry and Sally Sánchez, Josie Sánchez, Benito Alcaraz, Ernie and Sara Segovia, Phil and Florence Márquez, Ben and Helen Gonzales, Toby and Lupe Tobías, Nick and Lila Santos, and a host of others.”

Antonio Roberto Soto was born in Tucson, Arizona on October 22, 1921. He comes from a family line that was living in that territory long before 1848 when American troops came to take it over. By conquest and at the stroke of a pen, the area that was known as northern Sonora, México became Arizona, U.S.A.

In 1935 Soto left Arizona to enter the Franciscan seminaries in California. Between 1950 and 1961, he was a professor of philosophy and social science at San Luis Rey College, the major seminary for the Order. Since the college was located at Mission San Luis Rey, he felt the area would be rich in archaeological finds. He, therefore, directed  his students in a project that resulted in the discovery of many artifacts and findings from garden in the valley below the Mission. It had tile stairways, aqueducts, Spanish coins and Indian shell money. He also directed the restoration of a Spanish soldier’s fort. An account of the digging was later published in scholarly journals. He also discovered a lost library the “Zacatecas Collection,” which had disappeared after the demise of the mission system in 1830.

In 1950  he obtained his M.A. in sociology from the Catholic University in Washington, D.C. After celebrating 25 years in the priesthood, he retired from its formal structures and started a new career as an academic by enrolling in the University of California in Berkeley. There he supported himself by teaching and, in 1978, earned a doctorate in sociology.

I have been very fortunate that every stage of my life has resulted in ever widening circles of opportunity,” he states. “I have always sought to serve the people in new ways,” A culminating experience came in a974 when he and Phyllis Armas were married in the Guadalupe Church. Both were always involved in education, community work, and the reform of institutions.

Soto was Vice President of the Federation of Christian Ministries, a national group that seeks to make people aware of their options both within and without institutionalized religion. In this area he promoted the formation of small, international communities. An example was the group known simply as the the “Comunidad,” of which Soto was a member, which strived to develop a spirituality based on the Chicano historical experience and culture and to be self determining. A similar, but in many ways different, was the “comunidad de base” movement in Latin America. In search of alternatives, Antonio and Phyllis traveled to Cuba, Mainland China, and Central America. Antonio also attended a meeting on small communities in Oxford, England.

Soto authored a book, “The Chicano and the Church.” He published over twenty articles, mostly on Chicano history and culture. One of his work was on the Mexican workers in the New Almaden Quicksilver Mines south of San Jose. The caves long used by the Indians of this valley, were discovered to be sources of quicksilver by a Mexican army officer in 1846. By 1860 the mines became the world’s second largest producer of quicksilver, employing some 2,000 workers, mostly Mexican. Soto called this “Santa Clara County’s best kept secret.” He also deplored the neglect of then city and county administration of the historical contributions of the Mexican people. He cited, as an example, the plans for downtown San Jose and the Guadalupe River Park which lacked any vestige of the Mexican historicity of the area.

Soto’s work has not been unrecognized. He received awards from very diverse groups. Among these were the Martin Luther King award (National Conference of Christians and Jews, 1988), the Anti-Defamation League of B’Nai B’Rith (Human Relations Award, 1966), the Opportunities Industrialization Centers (National Torchbearer Award, 1975), and the Church (Pope Paul VI in 1972). The California Human Development Corporation gave him the Golden Aztec Award in 1986 and named a job training center after him in Santa Rosa.

He wanted to continued teaching and devoting his time to community and leadership development, especially among minorities. He concluded that “the positive energy out there far outweights the evil, but it is often not publicized. We need more role models for young people.” © Mary J. Andrade.

 

“Caminante se hace camino a| andar”

February 1, 1996

by Yolanda Reynolds

Last week, at a memorial service at CET (Center for Employment Training) for Dr. Antonio Soto, a striking message was obvious – one person, can make a difference. Dr. Soto was one such person who was inspired and has inspired others. If Dr. Soto were to read such a statement he would be the first to dispute that he achieved anything alone, however, anyone who worked with him would credit Dr. Soto for providing the inspiration and determination to make good things happen.

In a very special way, San Jose was especially rewarded for his many years of commitment to social justice and economic opportunity for all communities, in particular those that have been left by the wayside such as farm workers, the poor, immigrants and other less fortunate, oftentimes including Latinos or members of other minority populations in the Valley.

Ermelinda Sapien, the Executive Director of CET spoke for those in attendance at the memorial when she pointed out that the memorial was held to “celebrate the life of an extraordinary man.”

Jim McEntee, the Director of the Santa Clara County Department of Human Relations and a 33-year acquaintance and colleague of Anthony Soto, observed that “he (Soto) was a man of prayer and a man of action.”

McEntee described watching the, then Franciscan priest Anthony Soto, stand in protest at the front wheels of a 22-ton cement truck in downtown San Jose. Soto and others were opposed to the construction of the CPA (Center For Performing Arts) unless Latinos and other minorities were able to get jobs in the largest City public building project of that time (1969). Fr. Soto, along with several others, were arrested and jailed for disrupting the peace. Now the City requires evidence for the consideration of minority workers in contract awards.

In another brewing labor issue of the mid-sixties – McEntee says, Soto walked much of the way from Delano to Sacramento with Cesar Chavez in case of the farm workers, who were protesting their very low wages and even worse housing and working conditions.

McEntee, a former priest, explained that Anthony Soto had been, for him, a “mentor and role model”. He said, “Anthony preached the Gospel, lived the Gospel. In today’s words, he could say he (Soto) walked the Gospel.”

Anthony Soto is considered one of the prominent civil right leaders of the County and the State, whose contributions on behalf of justice go beyond the confines on the Santa Clara Valley. He, with his colleagues and fellow community advocates, founded and established the job training center, CET, well known national and internationally for its successful program. A number of years ago it was declared to be the most active job training center and was directed by the World Bank to serve as a model for training others to establish similar programs worldwide.

Dr. Soto believed that “every person had a right to a decent job and a decent place to live” and that such would be possible with good job training.”

Santa Clara County Supervisor Beall, a long-time admirer of the work at CET, pointed out that, for him even before election to this first public office, he had been inspired by the moral leadership that Anthony Soto provided. Supervisor Beall mentioned that Anthony Soto’s strong values instilled the belief in himself and others that “we must protect and educate the youth and that this job is never over.” Beall has remained committed to social services to those less advantaged.

Beall is credited with taking a lead in directing Federal dollars towards CET to help enhance the important opportunities that the Center provides to many disadvantaged and too often overlooked able bodied and hard-working citizens. Nationwide, CET has trained and placed in jobs over 70,000 students.

In the 1960’s, a major shift in the Catholic church and many religious left the organizations. For many of those who left, their community work and commitment to justice continued but in a different way than before. Many are married and have families – some have remained single. however, for most of their lives are devoted to helping others. Soto met and fell in love with the community activist and then widow and mother Phyllis Armas, who he married in 1974.

After leaving the order Anthony Soto studied at Sociology at Berkeley where he was awarded a doctorate. He then became a Professor at San Jose State University and remained there for over a decade.

Joe Medal, CET board chairman, pointed out that it was “challenging to step into the shoes” of Dr. Soto, who since 1967 had been board chairman.

Dr. Soto continued to attend Board meetings until a few months ago, when his illness did not allow him to leave his home. Friends of Dr. Soto say that, until the very last day of his life, his mind was sharp and clear. Dr. Soto had such a quiet but determined demeanor. He exuded a strength that gave courage to others.

Phyllis, his wife of many years, explained how she came to understand the tremendous suffering that Dr. Soto experienced before he died. Mrs. Soto

said that she understood then that each of us must discover our true selves and while we have our health to do the very best that we can. She explained that the many letters and visits helped her realize that “God’s work, (which was Dr. Soto’s work) would continue through each of you.”

There are few times that such devotion to ideals and a purpose of life can persist and be so effective as was expressed at this gathering of the “CET family” in memory and celebration of the years of work of Anthony Soto.

The CET auditorium/dining hall was filled with students, teachers and admirers. Simultaneously, memorial services in Dr. Soto’s memory were celebrated at 40 other CET centers across the Nation. In a style that Dr. Soto would have thoroughly enjoyed, there were songs accompanied by guitar and mariachi into the early afternoon. It was a celebration of his life. There were, as well, memorial services, in the evening, at Our lady of Guadalupe the church founded and established by then Father Soto and located in the heart of the Latino Community of San Jose.

Soto died last Tuesday evening after suffering, for over a year, the debilitating and painful effects of spinal cancer. He is survived by his wife of 22 years, Phyllis Armas Soto, and his children, David and Cecilia Armas. Dr. Soto was born Oct. 22, 1921 in Tucson. Arizona.

Sr. Don Antonio Soto le agradecemos el amor y la inspiración que nos dio, no solamente a unos pocos pero a toda nuestra comunidad. Gracias. © La Oferta Newspaper.