The Hispanic Education Center was first known as The Hispanic Wholistic Education Center when it opened its doors on September 11, 1988. Indianapolis native, Sister Mary Kay (Mary Catherine) Duffy of the Sisters of Providence religious order based in Terre Haute, Indiana founded the center.

Responding to a call from the McCormick Theological Seminary of Chicago for the development of programs that focused on hunger, housing, employment, education or peace, and justice, Sr. Mary Kay (Marikay) elected to respond to the call for education.

Sr. Marikay graduated from St. Mary-of-the-Woods College with a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s in special education from Indiana State University. After ministering in Peru, South America, from 1964 to 1975, she returned to Indianapolis to organize the Hispanic Apostolate for the Archdiocese.

After locating Hispanic residents through a city-wide search, she notified the community of weekly Mass in Spanish at St. Mary’s Catholic Church. Sr. Marikay’s involvement with the Hispanic community grew when she received a $20,000 grant from the McCormick Theological Seminary to open the Hispanic Education Center at the Marian Center, adjacent to St. Mary’s Church in 1987.

Initially, Sr. Marikay organized religious education for children and adults filled the Center’s agenda, however, she quickly embraced a holistic approach to education. Services expanded to include afterschool programs, art and music courses, extended summer school programs, teenage academic formation guidance, and early childhood education. Adults had access to English as a second language and computer programs, sewing and parenting skills classes, and most importantly bilingual immigration processes and citizenship preparation courses. The Center offered General Education Diploma (GED) preparation courses, as well.

In 2005 the Hispanic Education Center closed at St. Mary’s Marian Center building and its services were absorbed with three other Latino organizations under the umbrella organization La Plaza, Inc.

Revised July 2021

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