Ministry Guide Lines
The following are recommendations that will help create a common vision of Hispanic ministry in our diocese. They are suggestions that should of course be adapted to local realities.
- Take the time to educate Non-Hispanic parishioners and actively encourage them to become familiar with the realities of Hispanic culture and ministry.
- Create opportunities for Hispanic and Non-Hispanic parishioners to get to know each other and share their gifts. Strategies could be: bilingual liturgies on special occasions, bilingual parish bulletins, pulpit announcements of the different parish activities, joint projects, English lessons, Spanish lessons, cultural celebrations like: Posadas, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Epiphany, National Hispanic Heritage Month and celebrations that reflect the other main ethnic groups of the parish.
- Encourage parish registration of Hispanics, especially of those who request sacraments. It is helpful if families are assisted in filling out registration forms.
- Form a parish Hispanic committee to be the liaison between Hispanics who do not speak English and the larger parish. This will facilitate better communication and a more organized ministry.
- Actively seek Hispanic representation in the pastoral council and other parish committees. Personal invitation is the most effective recruiting method. Constant mentoring is needed for beginners.
- Include Hispanic ministry in the overall parish planning and the parish profile.
- Actively search for a bilingual person when hiring new parish staff, regardless of position.
- Pay special attention to newcomer Hispanic young adults between the ages of 18 and 35. They are a large segment of our Hispanic population, often do not speak English, have very little formal education, are undocumented, and are the ones most likely to join another church.
- Mainstream as much as possible the religious education of English speaking Hispanic children and youth from elementary through high school, in order to start preparing future Hispanic parish leaders. HOWEVER, it is important to be sensitive to their cultural and socioeconomic realities, especially the fact that their parents might not speak English, their work schedules or lack of transportation might not allow them to attend regular classes and some older children might need special sacrament preparation. ALSO, it is a good idea to provide faith formation in Spanish for the parents so that they can be motivated to help their children and encourage them to learn too.
- Provide catechesis in Spanish for those children, youth and adults who do not speak English. Formation programs in Spanish are strongly recommended for adults who speak English but whose first language is Spanish. This will provide them with a safe place to develop their gifts and will ensure a constant pool of new leaders for the parish.
- Look for Hispanic Catholics who are not coming to church. Strategies could be: home visits, announcements at worksites, Laundromats and grocery stores frequented by Hispanics, etc.
- Identify new potential leaders, extend them a personal invitation to participate, and nurture them through their formation process.
- Be sensitive to the particular national and socioeconomic origins of Hispanic parishioners. Celebrate their traditions, mention main events in their home countries, and try to encourage leadership among their peers, so that others will follow.
- Use strong signs of hospitality like cultural symbols at the altar, vestments, welcoming people who are coming for the first time, asking for their country of origin, and chatting with them after mass.
- Network with government, private and diocesan offices that can provide services to the Hispanic community. For example: hospitals, doctors, lawyers, Catholic Charities, diocesan Refugee and Immigration Services, Office of Migrant Ministry, Office for the Hispanic Apostolate.