As part of the NPR News series The Changing face of America, we explore parish life at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart, in Washington, DC. The Roman Catholic parish was founded in 1899 by Irish and German Immigrants. Today, it is the spiritual home to thousands of new immigrants (from 60 countries) the majority of whom speak Spanish. This used to be a wealthy neighborhood — now many of the people who live nearby have low incomes. As the reality of the neighborhood changed, so did the requests for services. The Archdiocese of Washington — through Sacred Heart Parish and the Spanish Catholic Center — provides numerous social services to neighbors in need. They can find health care and dental care, a legal clinic specializing in Immigration Law, a day treatment center for addicts with other mental illnesses, adult education (Computers, GED and ESL), housing assistance, employment counseling, food for their pantries, a hot meal program for people living on the streets, and emergency shelter. Sacred Heart also provides a trusted place where immigrants can be welcomed and accepted.
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