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City of Lancaster Honors Community Leaders in Celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month

October 13, 2020 | Mayor's Office

 The City of Lancaster will recognize Carlos Graupera and Fr. Allan Wolfe with Lifetime Achievement Awards at tonight’s meeting of City Council, Director of Neighborhood Engagement Milzy Carrasco announced today. The awards are being given during Hispanic Heritage Month to acknowledge the many contributions of the Hispanic community to the City of Lancaster. 

Graupera is founder and president of the Spanish American Civic Association (SACA). Fr. Wolfe is the pastor at both San Juan Bautista Catholic Church and Saint Joseph Parish. 

Both Fr. Wolfe and Graupera have dedicated decades of their lives to improving the quality of life for the Hispanic community of Lancaster through their respective roles. Over 40% of Lancaster residents identify as Hispanic. 

The meeting will be virtual due to COVID-19 restrictions. It will be streamed on the City’s YouTube channel at 6:30 p.m. Those wishing to participate in the meeting through public comment can do so via Zoom or telephone. For instructions on how to join the meeting, visit www.cityoflancasterpa.com/city-council.  

Carlos Graupera was born in Cuba, and his family left for the United States when he was 11. They came to Lancaster as refugees in 1965. He studied at St. Joseph’s College in Indiana and worked in community development until establishing SACA.  

Carlos, and his wife Rosa, founded the Spanish American Civic Association (SACA) in 1973, where he continues to serve as president. SACA was founded to create a civic infrastructure through which an influx of Hispanic families in Lancaster could integrate into the social and economic fabric of Lancaster. 

SACA has evolved through the years. Today, SACA’s bilingual human services include case management, an STI clinic, a senior center, and drug and alcohol treatment and prevention. Their development efforts have created affordable housing and business opportunities in the historic southeast neighborhood of Lancaster City, including the creation of the new Plum, Palm, and North & Locust Street neighborhoods and the opening of the new South Duke Street Business Center.  

According to Carlos, one of the crown jewels of SACA is workforce development.  

“The success of the community will depend on the ability of individuals to be economically self-sufficient and upwardly mobile,” he told Central Penn Business Journal in 2018.  

Tec Centro provides bilanguage education and skills training to low-income residents with an end goal of job placement. They collaborate with local community colleges to provide training in high-demand fields like health care, construction, customer service and more. La Academia Partnership Charter School is another SACA initiative, providing bilingual education to students in grades six through 12 in Lancaster and Lebanon.   

SACA also operates Radio Centro, a bilingual radio station, and TeleCentro, a bilingual educational cable television channel, both of which educate, inform and entertain the public. 

Over the past 45 years, the impact of SACA, pioneered by Carlos, has had a profound impact. In recent years, SACA has served nearly 8,000 individuals annually, 85 percent being Latino. Their services are offered to the general community, meaning SACA’s mission encompasses more than just Lancaster’s Latino population.  

“Carlos is a visionary, and I’d like to model my behaviors after him,” Jacqueline Fisher, his successor in the role Executive Director of SACA, said in a January 2018 LNP|LancasterOnline article.  

Fr. Allan Wolfe was born in 1965 in Des Moines, IA. His family moved to Annville, PA when he was young, where he graduated from Annville-Cleona High School in 1983. After graduating from Gettysburg College in 1987, he completed a Masters of Divinity at Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, OH. He was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Harrisburg by Rev. Nicholas C. Dattilo on May 30, 1992. 

Fr. Wolfe has served in Lancaster City for nearly 25 years, with close to 25 years leading San Juan Bautista Catholic Church in the southeast and 6 concurrent years at Saint Joseph Parish in the southwest. Fr. Wolfe also had assignments at Sacred Heart of Jesus, Historic Saint Mary’s and Lancaster Catholic High School during his time in Lancaster.  

San Juan Bautista is the only Hispanic parish in the Diocese of Harrisburg. Besides typical church services, San Juan Bautista runs Plaza San Juan Bautista, a non-profit youth and cultural center that includes a thrift store, summer camp, and after-school program, providing the Hispanic community with free after-school and summer programs, religious education classes, computer lab services, clothing and furniture, free homecooked meals and community partnerships that offer martial arts and cultural dance lessons. 

Both the church and the Plaza San Juan Bautista have flourished under Fr. Wolfe’s leadership. 

Fr. Wolfe “is someone you can trust but most importantly, his words of encouragement touch everyone’s heart. He is an amazing teacher and preacher. He is not just the pastor, he is like a member of the family,” said Edna Negrón López, a long-time member of San Juan Bautista, in an October 4 LNP|LancasterOnline article.  

He recently announced that he will be relocating to Franklin County at the end of October to serve as pastor of Corpus Christi Parish in Chambersburg and Our Lady of Refuge Mission in Doylesburg.