Adult Faith Formation in the Hispanic Catholic Community in the United States: A Reflection

Authored by Gloria Zapiain in Issue #5.3 of The Catechetical Review

“Evangelization is the fundamental mission of the Church. It is also an ongoing process of encountering Christ, a process that Hispanic Catholics have taken to heart in their pastoral planning. This process generates a mística (mystical theology) and a spirituality that lead to conversion, communion, and solidarity, touching every dimension of Christian life and transforming every human situation.”[1]

On the occasion of this important milestone marking the publication of the USCCB’s seminal document on adult faith formation, Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us (hereafter “the document”), issued on the cusp of the new millennium, it is worth reflecting on its impact and influence on Hispanic ministry in this country. Much has taken place since that time, while significant ongoing challenges remain.

Some Pertinent Principles
Although the document does not explicitly address the Hispanic or other specific cultural communities, a number of its organizing principles do speak to some noteworthy realities. These principles will be the touchstones for this reflection. First, persons will always prefer to worship where they feel comfortable and at home. Second, faith as it relates to the family is a critical factor in any religious tradition. And lastly, social customs and popular devotion in harmony with the Gospel are to be respected, affirmed, and celebrated.

First Things First - Welcoming and Hospitality
While data are generally lacking regarding the number of Hispanics who have left the Catholic Church, current information suggests that a significant number of Hispanics who were baptized as Catholics join other Christian denominations and religious traditions every year; including fundamentalist groups and “storefront” churches—many of which maintain Hispanic cultural traditions that might otherwise be considered to be “Catholic,” including quinceañeras (fifteenth birthday blessings) and Epiphany celebrations. New arrivals often find the structure of the parish and the style of worship to be very different from what they experienced in their native country. In this unfamiliar environment, they are frequently targeted for what could be considered aggressive proselytizing by non-Catholic groups, and are offered transportation, many kinds of assistance, skillful scriptural preaching, as well as a friendly community to which to belong.

All this highlights the compelling need for Catholic parishes to provide a welcoming and hospitable atmosphere to newcomers, including Spanish-language and/or bilingual worship, ministries, parish pastoral leaders, and personnel whenever possible. In addition, Catholic parishes must be aware of several factors that can make Hispanics feel unwelcomed in the Catholic Church and make them more open to seeking a home in other faith traditions. Among these factors are: an unspoken attitude from parish staff or parishioners that they are “undesirable”; excessive or overwhelming administrative rules and forms; and being required to produce evidence of contribution envelopes before they can receive the sacraments.[2]

The rest of this online article is available for current subscribers.

Start your subscription today!


This article is from The Catechetical Review (Online Edition ISSN 2379-6324) and may be copied for catechetical purposes only. It may not be reprinted in another published work without the permission of The Catechetical Review by contacting editor@catechetics.com

Articles from the Most Recent Issue

Youth & Young Adult Ministry: Perseverance, Not Perfection
By Alison Blanchet
“Parenting was so much easier when I raised my non-existent children hypothetically”. A friend shared this meme with me a few months ago, and it resonated. Before I became a mom, I had lofty ideas about how much screen time and fresh fruit children should consume. My parent-self, on the other hand, decided screen time doesn’t count if it’s Veggie... Read more
Encountering God in Catechesis
By Catechists' Personal Testimonies
The Treasure We Give With the smell of Domino’s pepperoni pizza in the air and the sound of girly giggles that had not quite settled down, a group of 50 or so high school students crowded in small groups on the carpet floor of the parish center on a Sunday night, ready for another catechetical lesson in the St. Gertrude youth ministry program. As... Read more
Children's Catechesis: Contemplation for Each of Us
By Sophie Galloy
Can a businessperson aspire to contemplation? A parent? A teenager? A young child? Don’t we usually see it as a privilege reserved for monks and cloistered nuns? Father Marie Eugene of the Child Jesus would say that each of us is capable of genuine contact with God, including the young child. Blessed Marie-Eugene was a French Carmelite priest born... Read more

Pages

Watch Tutorial Videos

We've put together several quick and easy tutorial videos to show you how to use this website.

Watch Now