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Manuel Tómas Sánchez Papers

Identifier: MSS 163

Scope and Contents

This collection documents the life and career of Pentecostal Minister, Manuel Tomás Sánchez. The collection measures 2.0 cubic feet and is made up primarily of photographs documenting his career in the church. Included as well are transcripts of an oral history interview with Sánchez conducted as part of the Centro Voices of the Puerto Rican Migration oral history project. Materials date from the early part of the 20th century until 1991.


  • Creation: 1907 - 1995

Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers without restrictions.

Biographical / Historical

Religion influences the ethics, values and social behaviors of a group or country. During 1898, Puerto Rico experienced dramatic changes in all aspects of life, among them a religious transformation. The Catholic Church found competition from other religious denominations that were evangelizing and proselytizing Puerto Ricans, losing its hegemony and monopoly as the official religion of the island. Even Puerto Rican migrants in New York City were exposed to the “newer religious groups”. Manuel Tomás Sánchez became a member of the Pentecostal Church in 1932 and became an important figure in the religious conversion of many Puerto Ricans to his faith, unknowingly securing a place in the History of the Puerto Rican Diaspora.

Sánchez was born in Guánica, Puerto Rico on February 25th, 1907. He was the son of Bernardo Sánchez and Carmen Guzmán. His family migrated to New York City in the spring of 1927, where they moved to 95 Union Street near the Brooklyn piers, a district that received among the largest number of Puerto Ricans at the turn of the 20th century.

Sánchez followed in the footsteps of his mother by joining the Pentecostal Church pastured by Amado in 1932. His wife, Pilar Fernández, who he married in 1929 and the mother of their fifteen children, joined the Pentecostal church as well. On February 5 1933, he and his colleagues founded the Spanish Pentecostal Church, located at that time at 31 Atlantic Avenue, and re-named it Iglesia Pentecostal Antioquía , in 1959. The following year he became Pastor of the Antioch Church that today is located at 201 Atlantic Avenue. From that moment on he devoted his life to serving his church. During this period his mother and his wife were crucial in the process of attracting eighty new congregation members and converts.

Reverend Sánchez was the founding member of his church in 1933 and became the Pastor of the Antioquía Church from 1934 to 1989 with more than two hundred followers. Sánchez officially became a licensed advocate in 1935 and a license preacher of the Pentecostal Church in 1939. Finally, he was honored “Pastor Emeritus” from 1939 until the day he died on October 24, 1991. Sánchez was one of the founders and President of the Spanish Eastern District of the Assemblies of God for thirteen years, and was ordained a minister by Reverend Demetrio Bazán, Superintendent of the Latin American District Assemblies of God in 1943.

The Antioch Church under Sánchez adopted “Dulce compañerismo,” a term that he translated from the “Sweet Fellowship” from his American Pentecostal brothers. It was done to show solidarity and work in collaboration with his brothers in the church. Sánchez followed all the basic tenets of Pentecostalism at his Antioch Church. Ministers in the Pentecostal Church are first among equals with the congregation. Like the members of his Church he belonged to the working class. In the Pentecostal Church, women are active participants engaging in all religious activities, including the possibility of serving as preachers and/or ministers. The church created a community and a sense of belonging beyond the compound of the temple. All the religious services were conducted in the language spoken by the members. In this case they used Spanish as it was spoken among Puerto Ricans. They also incorporated other elements of the Puerto Rican culture. In the music they adopted the term “boleritos santificados” that translated to “holy little boleros,” a musical genre common to latino populations of the time. They also incorporated typical Puerto Rican musical instruments into the religious services. Indeed, these were some of the reasons why for many Puerto Ricans being in the church felt like being at home.

Reverend Sánchez together with other ministers led the way to creating a movement that now consists of more than one thousand churches in the region. The Antioch church to date has produced over thirty pastors. The legacy of Reverend Manuel Tomás Sánchez to the Pentecostal Church was that he notably helped to spread the movement, contributing to the rapid growth of the Pentecostal Church among Puerto Ricans and other Hispanics. On April 18, 2009 the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Court Street was named after him in recognition of his exemplary life and dedication to the Pentecostal Church.


Notes from unpublished manuscript by Rev. Manuel T. Sánchez. Compiled by Carmen Sánchez. April 15, 2003.

R. L. Ortiz, Jr. (Sito). Preserving Identity: Puerto Rican Shifts from Catholicism to Pentecostalism. Presented at Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños, Hunter College, CUNY, Spring 2009. 28 pp.


2.0 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Spanish; Castilian


Reverend Manuel Tomas Sánchez was a Pentecostal Minister, Iglesia Antioquía, Brooklyn, NY. He founded his church in 1933 and became the pastor of the Antioquía Church from 1934 to 1989 with more than 200 followers. Sánchez officially became a licensed advocate in 1935 and a licensed preacher of the Pentecostal Church in 1939. He was honored as Pastor Emeritus from 1939 until the day he died on October 24, 1991. Sánchez was one of the founders and president of the Spanish Eastern District of the Assemblies of God for 13 years, and was ordained a minister by Reverend Demetrio Bazán, superintendent of the Latin American District Assemblies of God in 1943. The collection is made up primarily of photographs documenting the life and career of Sánchez. Included are transcripts of his Puerto Rican in New York - Voices of the Migration oral history interview.


Collection is arranged topically within folders.

Other Finding Aids

English / Spanish bilingual finding aid available upon request.

Existence and Location of Copies

Collection available on microfilm and Sánchez's oral history interview audio recording available in Centro's Digital Collections portal.

Processing Information

During processing, the collection was topically organized into folders following the original order. The collection contained three binders with individual items in sheet protectors, arranged topically by the donor into the following categories: photographs, various documents and records, event programs, fliers, and newspaper clippings. These categories were separated into folders. Items were retained in their respective polyester sleeves, however the binders and the sheet protectors were removed from the collection for preservation purposes. Three detailed item-level inventory lists for each of the original binders can be found in Box1/Folder 1. Any materials that were not previously identified or separated by the donor were foldered together based on the topic of the materials (Box 2/Folders 1, 2, 8, and 9.)

Manuel Tomás Sánchez Papers
Pedro Juan Hernández, with English version edited by Vickie Alvarez and assistance by the Archive staff.
August 2020
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • June 2021: Collection processed and organized into folders by Victoria Fernandez. **Box 1/Folder 10 has a CD labeled "8th Grade Graduation Pictures." See processing note for more details.

Repository Details

Part of the Archives of the Puerto Rican Diaspora Repository

Silberman Building, Hunter College
2180 Third Ave. Rm. 122
New York New York 10065

About the Collections

Our collections consist of personal papers from prominent Puerto Rican artists, elected officials, social activists, writers, as well as the records of community-based organizations. Our largest collection, the Offices of the Government of Puerto Rico in the United States (OGPRUS) Records, measures approximately 2,900 cubic feet and contains an extraordinary amount of information regarding Puerto Rican migrants and the government institutions established to assist them. The collections date from the 1890s to the present, and document Puerto Rican communities in the Northeast, Midwest, Florida, California and Hawaii.