Photo: Catholic Church
The fact that Spanish-speaking and Latino Catholics are fast becoming a major segment—already about one-third—of the Catholic population in the U.S. wasn’t lost on a range of Catholic Hispanic leadership gathered Oct. 17-20 for a regional encounter.
“This growth is a blessing, but also it comes with a lot of challenges: We need to find a way to integrate the Hispanic community in fullness into the life of the church in the United States,” said Gustavo Valdez, a director of Hispanic ministry for the Diocese of Charleston, S.C., which encompasses the entire state of South Carolina.
“We see the problem that the Hispanic community is growing in its own way and the Anglo community is trying to maintain parishes in the U.S., but we may not have that communion of communities, and sometimes we are trying to assimilate each other,” Valdez said.
Valdez was among more than 150 leaders in Hispanic ministry who met in St. Augustine to share their pastoral and communications strategies—including many social media and Internet-based tools—and to take up the challenge to help step up the pace and effectiveness of Hispanic church leadership across the country.
The event was the 17th Southeast regional encuentro for Hispanic ministry hosted by the Miami-based SEPI—Southeast Pastoral Institute, or Instituto Pastoral del Sureste.
“We are universal and that means we have to work in a way that we can live together as a Christian community, as a Catholic community and accept each other as God’s gift; we compliment and enrich each other and only when we are together can we help the church to grow,” said Valdez, reflecting on the issue of integrating Anglo and Latino U.S. Catholics.