Jesuit Part of Initiative to Increase Number of Hispanics in Virginia Catholic Schools

Jesuit Father Shay AuerbachShare

Jesuit Father Shay Auerbach, pastor of Sacred Heart in Richmond, Va., with a 90 percent Hispanic population, is part of an effort to help Richmond area parishes increase the number of Hispanic students in local Catholic schools.

“With very few exceptions, Catholic schools in Latin America are almost exclusively for the wealthy,” he said, causing many Hispanics to think of Catholic schools as only for the elite.

“It doesn’t even enter into their mindset that Catholic schools are a possibility,” Fr. Auerbach said.

The Segura Initiative, named after Father Juan Baptista Segura, a Spanish Jesuit missionary priest who was martyred in Virginia in 1571, includes Auerbach and two other pastors from Richmond parishes with large Hispanic populations, as well as parishioners from each parish. They focus on three areas of concern: marketing and enrollment, fundraising and development, and cultural responsiveness.

Auerbach said he feels that Catholic schools face three challenges.

“One is to get the message out that we welcome Hispanic students,” he said. “Two, they’ve got to help Hispanics overcome the idea that Catholic schools are not for them, and three, financial assistance is needed.”

For more on Auerbach’s work with the initiative, read the full story at The Catholic Virginian.

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