Mission and Vision
The Hispanic Affairs Project (HAP) is a grassroots base organization dedicated to supporting the social development of the Hispanic immigrant community through a focus on leadership formation, community organizing and advocacy. HAP envisions Western Colorado communities where cultural diversity is recognized and Hispanic immigrants have opportunities to contribute as integral members through active civic participation. HAP believes that society and its institutions should be based on the principles of equality and solidarity so as to respect the dignity and human rights of every individual.
Fr. John Kiernan
Father John Kiernan was born July 7, 1924 in New York and grew up in the Bronx, New York. He attended Niagara University on a basketball scholarship and then served in the Air Force. He was a member of the Cisterian Order of priests and came to Colorado in 1955. The next year he helped found the St. Benedict’s Trappist Monastery in Snowmass.
In the mid-1960s he earned his master’s degrees in theology and Scripture from St. Joseph’s Abbey Seminary in Rome, Italy. When he returned to the US he joined Colorado’s Diocese of Pueblo and served churches in Montrose, Gunnison, Monte Vista, Delta, Lamar and Fruita, where he retired in 1989.
In the 1980s, he worked as an associate of the Maryknoll Missionaries in Bolivia and Guatemala, where he learned Spanish. When John returned to Western Colorado he became actively involved with the immigrant and migrant farmworker communities. It was through his ministry to this population that really inspired the formation of HAP. He encouraged church leaders and parishioners to do more than just minister to the immigrant community, but to work for social justice and immigrant rights.
Fr. John rarely missed a chance to protest or discuss political and social issues, or take action locally. From military spending to protecting the environment, John marched against the war in Iraq and fought for immigrant rights. He was often criticized for talking about political issues in church sermons, his response was, “You can’t keep politics out of church. We’re called by God to create a just society.”
Father Kiernan died May 24, 2010.