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| These occurrences were
the catalyst for the next wave of Portuguese immigration. Due to
the influence of Portuguese groups within their constituencies, Senators
John Pastore of Rhode Island and John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts co-sponsored
a congressional bill in 1958, referred to as the Azorean Refugee Act, which
permitted the issuance of extra visas to accommodate recent earthquake
victims. After the 1964 Sao Jorge earthquake, Senator Edward M. Kennedy
joined the cause of Azorean relief advocated by his late brother.
In 1965 the New Immigration and Nationality Act came into effect, eliminating
the quota system that had stemmed the flow of Portuguese immigration for
Lowell's Portuguese Community
As time went on, despite strict disciplinary rules, these casas de borde became one of the main places where young single people made acquaintances. Many would eventually marry and make their permanent residences in the same areas that the boarding houses had occupied. The neighborhood between Lawrence and Gorham Streets has become the nucleus of the Portuguese community past and present. Throughout the years, the Portuguese residents have diligently fixed their homes, planted colorful gardens reminiscent of the old country, and carried on cultural traditions that continue to give the city of Lowell its splendid ethnic diversity.
One of the first orders of business was to introduce a place of worship in their new city. Generally strong in their Catholic faith, the Portuguese immigrants wished to establish a church in which they could understand the language and experience religious customs particular to their own heritage. Therefore, in 1901 the parish community of Saint Anthony's Church was established. At first it was necessary to meet in the Hall of St. Peter's Parish, but by May of that year, a small, white wooden structure on the corner of Gorham and Congress Streets was purchased from the Primitive Methodists. In 1908, construction began on a new structure on back Central Street which could accommodate the growing congregation. After more than 90 years as a parish community, St. Anthony's Church still remains the focal point of the Portuguese neighborhood, continuing colorful traditional feasts and religious celebrations.
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