Posts Tagged ‘Hispanic ministry’
When Jesuit Father David Shields returned to his native Milwaukee in 1996 after teaching and ministering on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota for 22 years, he had an idea to create an affordable, accessible place where the Latino community could gather to pray, talk and learn.
His idea resulted in Casa Romero, an urban, bilingual spiritual renewal center he founded in Milwaukee 11 years ago. Since then hundreds of families and young people have flocked to the center on their own journeys of self-reflection and discovery, reports the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel.
The purpose of the center is to form and renew individuals and to strengthen families, thereby building community, according to Fr. Shields. One family program aims to deepen the bond between parents and teens through various activities that include sharing cultural and faith values. Another program is a bilingual retreat for teen girls and their moms.
The center has also expanded its programs to serve beyond the Latino community. There’s an “Urban Plunge” community service retreat for suburbanites and those from rural areas who want an urban experience.
Fr. Shields says the “Plunge” is becoming increasingly popular. “It’s an educational hands-on mission trip where individuals serve at the Saturday meal program at Gesu Church, visit with the homeless at Repairers of the Breach, or go to a homeless shelter,” he said.
“I think there’s a real concern in the heart of people,” Fr. Shields said. “They’re surprised when they meet homeless people and learn they’re ‘just like me’ and realize that they could be a couple of paychecks from that situation,” he said.
Casa Romero is housed in a former convent that had been vacant. The building was purchased for $100, and gifts and donations helped renovate it.
“There was no big plan,” Fr. Shields said. “We have no reason to exist, except by the grace of God.”
To read more about Fr. Shields and Casa Romero, visit the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel website.
Jesuit Father Robert McChesney, interim director for the Hispanic Institute at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University (JST), recently spoke with Catholic San Francisco on how the rapid growth of Hispanics in the U.S. church is changing schools and seminaries.
Fr. McChesney said, “We have to prepare our students for the changing face of the church, and that means attention to the devotional life of the Mexicans and the Latins in general. There is much more of a devotional faith than many of our students are familiar with. It takes me back to the church of the ’50s. We have to prepare our students to be part of a more devotional church.”
One devotional he’s become familiar with is practicing posadas during Advent. “The Latino Catholics will process around the neighborhood knocking on the door. It goes back to no room at the inn. … I’m an Irish-American Caucasian, but I’ve had to learn that because it’s certainly the religious practice,” said Fr. McChesney, who is also director of the Intercultural Initiatives and the New Directions Sabbatical programs at the JST.
“I have been taken back to my youthful practice of devotion, if you will, because it’s a way of prayer I needed to cultivate to serve the Latin community because it’s so central to them,” he said.
Fr. McChesney also said Hispanic leaders are influencing the U.S. church. “I think the Hispanic bishops have had a huge impact on immigration reform,” he said.
To read more of the interview with Fr. McChesney, visit Catholic San Francisco.
As a priest who is now totally immersed in ministry to Hispanics, Jesuit Father Shay Auerbach said that his introduction to it was “a quirk of fate.”
“I’d just received a licentiate in liturgy and knew I would be going to a parish for two years,” he said.
The parish was St. Raphael’s in Raleigh, N.C., which had seen a recent increase in Hispanics.
“We need somebody to say Mass in Spanish. Can you read the Mass in Spanish?” Fr. Auerbach remembers the pastor asking him soon after his arrival.
“That began a whole new chapter in my life,” he recalls, adding that his stay of two years he began in 1999 ended up being six and a half years. The parish had 4,000 registered families.
At St. Raphael’s he helped establish the new Hispanic community.
“It had started a year before I got there,” Auerbach said. “By the time I left the parish would have 1,300 to 1,400 Hispanics for Mass on a weekend.”
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.