Crusade: Latino Catholics Boost Graham Crusade Attendance

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With a huge outreach to the Hispanic populace, which makes up 60 percent of San Antonio's population, Billy Graham's four-day crusade last month drew 247,500 people and filled the Alamodome for the first time in its three-year history.

On the third night, 75,000 attended, including 10,000 watching on a screen at nearby Hemisfair Park, as Michael W. Smith and dc Talk sang. On the closing night, April 6, which featured Christian singer Jaci Velasquez, 66,250 showed up.

Graham praised the cooperation of Hispanics and Catholics, including an early endorsement from Archbishop Patrick Flores, the highest-ranking Catholic official in Texas.

"The Devil has separated us, and a crusade like this is used of God to bring people of all denominations together," Graham declared in his opening sermon. "We need one another." About 10 percent of the 700 churches that participated in the crusade were Roman Catholic. In all, 50 denominations took part.

ARCHBISHOP ON THE AIR: Flores, one of the nation's first Mexican-American bishops, met with Graham and taped radio spots in English and Spanish encouraging Catholics to attend the crusade to help bring them to a closer commitment to their faith.

Some fundamentalists criticized the ecumenical spirit, posting fliers in downtown San Antonio picturing Graham in a clerical collar with the caption: "Reject Billy Graham—He's Too Catholic."

Del Sanchez, pastor of Lifeway Community Church in San Antonio, helped organize Hispanic churches, and news of the crusade flooded Spanish-language radio and television stations. Crusade planners put "Good News" billboards throughout the city and sought to reach many low-income areas. Churches provided free transportation to the crusade.

In a west-side area of low-income ...

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