José S. Landaverde

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José Sigfredo Landaverde
Landaverde (left) in 2007
Born (1971-09-02) September 2, 1971 (age 46)
La Reina, Chalatenango, El Salvador
Occupation Community organizer, activist and priest. Former pastor.
Spouse(s) Patricia Bonilla

José Sigfredo Landaverde (born September 2, 1971) is a community organizer, activist, and priest at Our Lady of Guadalupe Anglican Catholic Church, located in the largely Mexican neighborhood of Little Village in South Side Chicago. He is also the co-founder and former executive director of the Latino Union.[1]

Early life[edit]

Landaverde was born into a poor family in La Reina, Chalatenango, El Salvador. He was forced into the jungle to join Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front guerrilla. At 17, he was arrested by the military and severely beaten for organizing among the poor. He fled to Guatemala, Mexico, and ultimately, the United States, where he was given status as a political refugee.

Upon seeing what he perceived as injustices perpetuated against Latinos in the United States, particularly illegal immigrants, day laborers, and those working in temporary agencies, he began working with grassroots organizations to reach out to the exploited community. His leadership led him to co-found the Latino Union in May 2000 in Chicago, IL.


Influenced by the role of his mother as a catechist, and inspired by the martyrdom of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, Landaverde went on to pursue his studies at Catholic Theological Union, and later in Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, obtaining his Masters in Divinity.


As he was obtaining his Masters, the Northern Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church appointed him as a pastor in Amor De Dios United Methodist Church in July 2003. One of Landaverde’s main goals was to promote ecumenicism by merging the gap between the Roman Catholicism of Little Village and Protestantism, inspired by the example of John Wesley, the founder of United Methodism.

One of his controversial strategies was introducing an icon of the Virgin of Guadalupe, a national symbol of patriotism and faith in Mexico. Within the Methodist Church there was support, but also opposition that sparked headlines in newspapers and magazines such as Time.[2] Thinking of Mary as the first disciple of Jesus and keeping in mind Wesley’s view of her as a "pure and unspotted virgin",[3] Landaverde ignored the cries of conservative Methodists. The practice was eventually approved by Superintendent Donald F. Guest, but was still frowned upon by many.

Amor De Dios United Methodist Church at the time of his ministry continued financially unstable, at times encouraging Landaverde to donate his paycheck to the church treasury. He expressed discontent toward the Conference, feeling that it left poor churches even more economically vulnerable. His frustration peaked at the criticism displayed by conservative Methodists who insisted that his theology was too "radical," or, conversely, Roman Catholic. The lack of support and resources from the Church inhibited many of his grassroots projects. Finally, in 2006 he retired from his position in the Methodist Church, leaving a trusted lay member, Ramiro Rodríguez, in charge.


He transferred to the Anglican Catholic Church that same year. In the summer of 2007, Landaverde opened up a closed bar in Little Village and remodeled it to become the first Spanish-speaking Anglican Catholic Mission in Illinois.


Landaverde is known for his grassroots organizing particularly concerning immigrants’ rights and workers’ rights,[4] being the first to popularize the new sanctuary movement in Illinois.[5] He housed immigrants in danger of deportation, most notably Elvira Arellano in the year 2004 before she took refuge in Adalberto United Methodist church in Humboldt Park in August 2006. He worked with the day laborers of Home Depot[6] and sent truckloads of provisions to New Orleans in 2005[7] and donated toys and supplies to Tabasco, México in Christmas of 2007.[8]


In December 2014 Landaverde was arrested and accused of beating a woman in his apartment in Little Village after a night of drinking [9]


  1. ^ HR 599, Illinois General Assembly
  2. ^ Hail, Mary, Time, David van Biema, Mar. 13, 2005.
  3. ^ "Letter to a Roman Catholic" (DUBLIN July 18, 1749) Archived September 3, 2006, at the Wayback Machine. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-02-01. Retrieved 2008-02-11. 
  4. ^ People's Tribune, September 2001
  5. ^ [1] El Santuario De Los Inmigrantes
  6. ^ [2][permanent dead link] Northwestern Medill News Service
  7. ^ [3], Northern Illinois Conference (United Methodist)
  8. ^ Salen Juguetes Hacia Tabasco, Hoy
  9. ^ [4], Chicago Tribune, December 11, 2014