Hungarian Americans of Cleveland

Cleveland Press Articles

They Will Talk in Spanish to New Puerto Rican Chums

By Marjorie Schuster, Schools Writer
Cleveland Press, OCT 2 1961

A jolly Hungarian priest on the near West Side is teaching the children of his small parish to "love thy neighbor" in a very practical way.

Most of Rev. Fr. John Mundweil's pupils at St. Emeric Catholic School are natives of Germany, Australia and Hungary-or children of escaped Hungarian freedom fighters. Under the priest's gentle insistence, they are learning softly accented Spanish so they may communicate with Puerto Rican newcomers to the neighborhood.

Meanwhile, back at Hicks School around the corner, as reported a few days ago, the Puerto Rican youngsters are learning English so they can talk to those who settled in the neighborhood earlier.

"It's all very cosmopolitan," said Father Mundweil.

Fr. Mundweil started the Spanish class last year. He has taught himself the language and has kept working to interest his pupils in it.

The other day he offered 25 cents to any young scholar who leans a Spanish work he doesn't know.

He Learns, Too.

"I like to learn new languages," the priest said. He recalled that a few years ago he and a colleague taught themselves to speak Yiddish.

"It was easy," said Fr. Mundweil. "We both spoke German and we had learned Hebrew in school."

The Hungarian parish on W. 22d St. near Moore Ave. was founded in 1904. It flourished for many years, then dwindled, then revered briefly a few years ago when escaped Hungarian refugees moved into the area.

Now these people, too, have gone to other parts of the city. However, a few children return to St. Emeric. The school has tow regular grades, seventh and eighth, just 16 regular pupils, plus a slow learning group.

Father Mundweil instructs the regular group of 16 in Spanish, music and religion. The other classes are taught by Sister Rose.

On Sundays the priest speaks at one mass in English and in Hungarian at another.