Monday, February 8, 2010

New Report on the Status of National and Regional Hispanic Ministry Initiatives

Fr. Allan Figueroa Deck, executive director of the Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church, announced February 4 the completion of a report titled National and Regional Hispanic Catholic Ministry Organizational Initiatives: An Assessment. Para nuestros hermanos hispanohablantes, la noticia del estudio se encuentra aquí en español pero el estudio existe solamente en inglés.

The assessment produced by Dr. William D. Dinges of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies of The Catholic University of America was based on a survey of 20 regional and national Hispanic Catholic ministry organizations and an analysis of their structures, services, activities and challenges.

“These organizations are necessary players in promoting Hispanic Catholic leadership development,” said Father Deck.

In October 2008, a group of Catholic leaders met at the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame to advise the bishops’ Committee on Cultural Diversity and its Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs regarding the status of these organizations. Serious concerns surfaced among the advisory group members regarding the financial struggles and limited internal capacity of these organizations, which traditionally have played an essential role in providing professional development, visioning and planning for the growing field of Hispanic ministry.

The main problems noted include the underfunding of these organizations and the limitations on their internal capacity in terms of planning, personnel and fund development. Other concerns includes the high turnover rates in the leadership, and dependency on volunteers which often mean lack of continuity and a “re-invent everything syndrome,” says the study.

Limited outreach to youth and to a large segment of Hispanics who are not parish affiliates in a formal way are also seen as areas of concern.

“The NRHM assessment underscores what many Hispanic ministry leaders have been saying: the major challenge in nearly all national and regional Hispanic ministry organizations is the curtailment of their mission due to a severe lack of fiscal and consequently personnel resources,” said professor Tim Matovina of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at Notre Dame, and a member of the advisory group. “Bolstering the structures that sustain Hispanic ministry is one of the most urgent strategic goals for the vitality of Latino Catholic faith.”

Michael Brough, director of Planning & Programs, National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management stressed the importance of leadership development and capacity building and the valuable information provided by the assessment in order to tackle those issues.

“The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ assessment of Hispanic ministry organizations and their initiatives, provides important data necessary for promoting best practices across a range of temporal issues facing the Church. These include: effective management, sufficient budgets, strategic planning, sustainable fundraising, adequate staffing, and high quality leadership development. Without this, we will fail as a community to meet the current and future needs of the Hispanic community and all those served by the Church.

“Given the importance of such intermediate organizations for the Church’s mission and for the U.S. bishops’ priority on recognition of cultural diversity with emphasis on Hispanic ministry, the advisory group will meet again to consider ways in which these organizations can be strengthened,” Father Deck said.

The bishop’s Committee on Cultural Diversity, and its Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs, will review the findings of the report and hear the recommendations of the advisory group in an effort to respond creatively to the challenge of bolstering resources and encouraging best practices.

The study, which was made possible thanks to grants from Catholic Relief Services and The Catholic University of America, included a variety of organizations such as the National Association of Hispanic Priests (ANSH), Instituto Nacional Hispano de Liturgia, the National Catholic Association of Diocesan Directors for Hispanic Ministry (NCADDHM), the National Catholic Council for Hispanic Ministry (NCCHM), several pastoral institutes, Federación de Institutos Pastorales (FIP), the Mexican American Catholic College, a national association of Hispanic Catholic youth ministers (La Red) and diverse regional associations and structures that serve primarily diocesan as well as parish leadership within their region. If you are involved in Hispanic ministry and want to know who the major players are in this country, the organizations surveyed are listed in the appendix of the report along with their addresses. Unfortunately the report does not include phone numbers or Web sites.

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