Photo: Hispanic Lay Leadership Initiative (Catholic Extension)
In the midst of Hispanic Heritage Month, Catholic Extension announced the launch of the national Hispanic Lay Leadership Initiative, a three-year commitment of strategic investment by Catholic Extension to fund the salaries of 100 new Hispanic lay leaders in poor mission dioceses across the U.S. The initiative is aimed at positively impacting Hispanic ministry in the U.S. Catholic Church.
Nearly 40 percent of U.S. Catholics are Hispanic, and some predict that as soon as 2020, Hispanics could be the majority in the Catholic Church. However, less than 10 percent of paid leadership in the Church is Hispanic. The Hispanic Lay Leadership Initiative is designed to address this growing need by building pastoral capacity in dioceses where Hispanics are present in significant numbers through creating new lay leadership positions. These new leaders will be able to reach out to thousands of Hispanic Catholics across the country.
This initiative is designed not as a temporary solution to address an immediate crisis in human resources for Hispanic ministries, but to serve as a catalyst for a more substantial leadership investment in Hispanic ministry on the part of Catholic dioceses.
This is a $15,000,000 initiative over the three-year period. The cost of the positions will be split equally between Catholic Extension and the participating dioceses. Catholic Extension will invest in Hispanic lay leadership in its initial years. At the conclusion of the three-year partnership, dioceses will be responsible for sustaining the position on their own.
Leaders throughout the U.S. echo the need for support for Hispanic Catholics in today’s Catholic Church, including Dr. Arturo Chavez, president and CEO of Mexican American Catholic College. Dr. Chavez has over 28 years of teaching and ministry experience, and is a supporter of the Hispanic Lay Leadership Initiative. He spoke recently at a Catholic Extension conference bringing together many of the newly hired Hispanic lay leaders from across the country.