Jose Antonio Acevedo: Priest, Father, Uncle, Educator and Advocate for Latinos in Education


Jose A Acevedo passed away on December 14th, 2015. Devoted husband of Ana Figueroa for 44 years. Loving father of Antonio (Denise) and Tanyia. Cherished grandfather of Elise and Alec. Loving uncle of many nieces and nephews. He was a wonderful father and loving husband, grandfather, uncle, mentor, colleague and friend. He will be missed. Jose A Acevedo was born in a hospital in the Santurce area of San Juan on July 20th, 1938. He grew up in the Puerta de Tierra neighborhood of San Juan. In 1950, he moved to Chicago at first settling in the Taylor St. area and then moving to West Screenshot 2016-06-08 09.08.29Town near the “Polish Triangle” area. He came to Chicago not knowing English and was enrolled in Catholic School for 8th grade where he had classes in Polish in addition to English. Acevedo attended Holy Trinity on Division St. He eventually discerned a call to the priesthood. During his time in the seminary, he spent time in a mission in San Miguelito, Panamá. When he graduated from St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, he became recognized as the first Puerto Rican Archdiocesan priest in Chicago. Padre Acevedo baptized and married many Puerto Ricans in Chicago while he was at St. Aloysius on Western Ave. However, his calling ended after a combination of frustration with how the Church was serving the Latino community and his falling in love with a nun, Sister Providence, led to his leaving the Church. After Acevedo officially left the priesthood and Ana Figueroa left the order, they got married in May of 1971 and left Chicago for Boston to escape the controversy. They returned a few years later with two children and reestablished their lives in Chicago. Arguably one of his greatest accomplishments was in 1975 when he founded El Centro of Northeastern Illinois University and served as its director for about 20 years. As a satellite extension of Northeastern Illinois University, its mission was to make college accessible to the Latino population by offering the first two years of college at this facility in a Latino neighborhood at more convenient hours and in a bilingual setting as well. Towards the latter part of his tenure, El Centro provided coursework at higher levels and even served as a place for Latino educators to obtain coursework towards an administrative certificate. Acevedo always believed that through education we could level the playing field for minorities in this country. He was committed to that. His also had a dream that El Centro would have its own campus and not be housed in a leased facility as it was during his time there. And now not too far from here along the Kennedy you can see that brand new El Centro location. In 1995 Acevedo defended his dissertation titled: A descriptive and exploratory case study of El Centro 1975- 1991: A Hispanic Educational Outreach Center at Northeastern Illinois University. He was awarded an Ed.D., a doctorate in education, from Loyola University Jose Acevedo’s Eulogy was written by Antonio Acevedo. Excerpts of the eulogy were used for this work.

Please follow and like us: