Hispanic group recognizes Pee Dee priest

COLUMBIA — The South Carolina Hispanic/Latino Health Coalition has presented its annual Ramos Excellence in Hispanic Community Service Award to Father ’Rick La Brecque, pastor of St. James Church in Conway and Church of the Resurrection in Loris.

The recognition, known as the Abriendo Puertas para Nuestra Gente Award, was given at the coalition’s annual conference recently.

In nominating the priest, Genoveva McFadden of the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health described him as “a quiet, unassuming force in advocating for the needs of the Hispanic community in the Pee Dee area.

“For over 10 years, he has been a major power in bringing attention to the Hispanic/Latino population not only in the Pee Dee area but statewide,” she said.

Diane Bullard, Pee Dee regional coordinator for Catholic Charities, described Father La Brecque as a “constant nagging voice” who asked the right questions to bring awareness and get people moving to serve the needs of the Hispanic community.

According to a press release, in the past the priest had observed that there was a growing population of Hispanics in the Conway area, and he decided to reach out to their community.

“It was quite a surprise,” Father La Brecque said of the award. “I share it with all the people of Spanish- and English-speaking background who have worked with me in this ministry over the years.”