by Craig Gould, Peacebuilders Initiative, September 23, 2014
The newly released “National Study of Catholic Parishes with Hispanic Ministry” from Boston College and overseen by Professor Hospino highlights the current pastoral response of the Catholic Church in the United States to the dramatic rise of the presence of Hispanics. Among many other findings is the reality that “Only four in 10 parishes with Hispanic ministry have formal programs to minister specifically to Hispanic youth.” Since the population of Hispanic youth are already the largest single ethnic demographic in the population of under 18 Catholics in the United States, the lack of formal programs to raise up ministers from among Hispanic youth is an immediate ecclesial concern.
This paper engages the models developed in the Lilly Youth Theology Network to engage the question asked by Dr. Hospino, “Are we as Church training all pastoral leaders—in seminaries, universities, and pastoral institutes—with the appropriate competencies to serve a Church that is increasingly Hispanic?” More specifically I would like to address the questions of what pedagogical approaches and programmatic components are most effective for reaching this specific demographic with the opportunity to answer a vocational calling to ministry.
Using the social science information available through this report and the newly released “Young Catholic America” from Christian Smith, I will integrate the knowledge that these two projects have obtained with the expertise of praxis common to the high school theology programs. In this way I hope to contribute an example of a particular way in which youth ministry can be thought of and practiced as a process of vocational discernment.
Director of Youth and Young Adult Programs
Catholic Theological Union