Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Concert to benefit Centro Hispano at Marist

Published October 11, 2013

ATLANTA—“Somos Dreamers, We are Dreamers,” is the name of the upcoming benefit concert to be presented at the Marist Centennial Center on Saturday, Nov. 9, from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m.

Marist School and the Society of Mary will host a Catholic Latin Salsa Concert featuring the exciting tropical band, “E.M.A.,” Emmanuel Ministero de Alabanza. Everyone, including families, is invited to enjoy the concert and, in the process, share the American dream with Hispanic “Dreamers.”

The name “Dreamers” refers to the many young, undocumented immigrants who entered the United States as children but were unable to continue with their education as they reached young adulthood. Centro Hispano Marista, the Marist Hispanic Center, gives these young adults the opportunity to complete their GED and simultaneously apply for “Deferred Action Status” and legal work visas.

Aware that the mission of the Society of Mary gives the highest priority to serving those who are most marginalized and neglected by society, Marist Father Ted Keating, provincial, asked the Marists at Marist School and at Our Lady of the Assumption Parish to promote the education and formation of young adult Hispanics in the Atlanta area.

The “walking immigrants,” young laborers from Mexico and Central America, were identified as the least served and the most in need of educational opportunities. They represent approximately 30 percent of the Hispanics, more than half of the undocumented immigrants, and about 14 percent of the total Catholic population in the Archdiocese of Atlanta. In response to this urgent need the Marist priests and brothers, in partnership with concerned laity, established the Centro Hispano Marista GED Program in August 2012.

Centro Hispano Marista is uniquely positioned to bring Dreamers out of the shadows via a special program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which gives special consideration to those who were brought into the United States when they were just children. To qualify, immigrants must have come under the age of 15 and now be 30 years old or younger and without a criminal record when they apply for Deferred Action. Applicants must also either have a high school education or be presently enrolled in a General Education Development (GED) program.  Centro Hispano Marista provides encouragement and assistance to these young people by helping them to achieve Deferred Action Status and obtain their high school diploma. Several students have already completed their GEDs, been granted Deferred Action Status, obtained legitimate jobs and are now applying to or attending local colleges.

Centro Hispano Marista was funded by a grant from the Catholic Foundation of North Georgia and private donors.

The program has benefited from Marist School’s strong academic reputation, the success of its outreach programs, the credentials of the Centro’s volunteer faculty and the academic director’s record of success at administering GED programs. Once the efficacy of the program was established, the demand skyrocketed as immigration lawyers referred their clients and students who, in turn, encourage their friends and family members to register as part of the Centro Hispano Marista community.

While Marist School generously provides many resources, over 70 professional volunteers serve as teachers, assistants and administrators. For example, Consuelo Leon and Nancy Haig, two retired professional Spanish teachers from the rival Catholic schools of St. Pius X and Marist, now work together as co-chairs of the Centro’s GED Spanish department. Both share a passion to alleviate the plight of the Dreamers by using their considerable teaching skills and experience to educate these Hispanic young adults. Marist students help by serving as tutors and by providing hospitality and encouragement for over 700 enrolled students in 29 classes at Centro Hispano Marista.

The proceeds from the benefit concert will go toward defraying the costs of the GED program at Centro Hispano Marista. Ticket donations are $25 per adult or $50 for a family of five and $10 for students. Concert tickets may be purchased at Further information about Centro Hispano Marista may be found by visiting Those wishing to provide financial or volunteer support to the Center are asked to contact Marist Father Bill Rowland at Marist School or Salvador Arias at