A Welcome Message from the Assistant Director
Dear colleagues in ministry,
Asst. Director, SCHA
The year 2011 is projected to be a very special one for discerning the signs of the times. Let’s ponder on a few of these signs:
- The great anti-immigrant wave of 2010 seems to be losing its strength, at least, at the legislative level
- The 2010 Census again shows that the Hispanic/Latino population has had the highest growth since the year 2000 and that it is the one projected to grow the most by the year 2020
- The number of parishes with Hispanic/Latino ministry is now close to 4,500
- The Church in the United States, for the first time in its history, has two active Hispanic/Latino archbishops. Archbishop Jose Gomez in the largest archdiocese of the country, Los Angeles; and Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller in the historic Archdiocese of San Antonio.
These signs of the times show us a population that will continue to grow not only in number but also in influence and in the power of transformation in the next ten years. They also show us an emerging Hispanic/Latino leadership in the Church and its positive impact in parishes and dioceses which, in time, will translate into a more just and caring society.
Another sign of the times, possibly the most interesting one, is the process of “mestizaje” or the mixing of races that is occurring in the nation. At the population level, the Census Bureau is showing us that the group with the highest proportional growth is the one that identifies itself as originating from more than one race. At the pastoral level, The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) shows us that, in addition to English, Sunday Mass is celebrated in other languages in 33 per cent of parishes compared to 22 per cent in the year 2000. At the professional level, it is becoming increasingly important to speak more than one language and to learn to interact with people from other cultures in the economic, commercial, political and even pastoral arenas. NCADDHM’s theme for its 2011 National Conference “La Experiencia transformadora de Pedro: A Spiritual Paradigm for Intercultural Leadership”, is a very clear sign of this intercultural reality and of the unique contribution that Hispanic/Latino people can offer.
This hotchpotch of cultures and races calls for the church to be ready to achieve a healthy and fraternal integration of all its distinct members under the model of unity in diversity. The USCCB Secretariat for Cultural Diversity in the Church is working on three projects to facilitate this healthy and fraternal integration in the upcoming years. The first one has to do with the development of an ‘Intercultural Competence,’ which would allow us to acquire the necessary knowledge, attitudes and abilities to interact, in a positive way, with people of different cultures. The second one has to do with parish processes which will serve to achieve a good level of integration among culturally diverse peoples and communities which make up the parish community. The third one has to do with the strengthening of national and regional Hispanic ministry organizations so they may fulfill their mission in a more effective way.
This third project, which we call Emerging Catholic Hispanic Leadership: A discernment process with national and regional organizations, has as its primary objective the creation of a space to discern the signs of the times and identify strategies that would strengthen the internal and financial power of our organizations so that, in the years to come, they would be able to fulfill their mission in a more effective way. An encuentro with representatives of organizations such as NCADDHM, is scheduled for September 26-28, 2011 in San Antonio, Texas, at the Mexican American Catholic College (MACC). The encuentro is being convoked by the USCCB Sub-Committee on Hispanic Affairs.
These projects, along with those being held in your dioceses, parishes and organizations, are a sign that we are a Pueblo en Marcha (a people on the move) seeking to be leaven for the Kingdom of God in the Church and in society.
Additional information on these projects will be available in the upcoming weeks.
Mr. Alejandro Aguilera-Titus is Assistant Director of the Secretariat for Cultural Diversity in the Church. He has twenty five years of experience in ministry with a strong emphasis on leadership development and formation, catechesis, pastoral planning and ministry with young people. He is a nationally known speaker and writer highly regarded for his practical application of theological thought to pastoral ministry and formation. Mr. Aguilera-Titus is an adjunct faculty member at Mount Saint Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
In addition to his work with the Secretariat on Cultural Diversity in the Church, Mr. Aguilera-Titus serves as staff to the USCCBS Task Force for the Spanish-language Bible for America. His participation at the closing of the Synod for America, as special guest, and his involvement on Continental projects have made him a key player on the implementation of the Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in America. Mr. Aguilera-Titus is a valuable resource on theological-pastoral reflection, ecclesiology, catechesis and inculturation.
Mr. Aguilera-Titus holds a M.A. in Theology from the University of Portland and a B.A. in Communications with a minor in Philosophy from the Universidad Iberoamericana, in Mexico City. He sits on the board of a number of national Catholic organizations including the National Catholic Council for Hispanic Ministry, the National Catholic Association of Diocesan Directors for Hispanic Ministry, and the National Catholic Network de Pastoral Juvenil Hispana.