As Hispanic Catholic population increases, organization awards grants to 41 dioceses to help develop leadership among opportunities
Catholic Extension announced today that it is awarding $3,752,416 in grants this year to 41 dioceses to help support Hispanic programs, particularly leadership development. The 106-year-old national organization is responding to grant requests that include making bi-literate seminarian education more accessible and affordable, providing support for youth and family ministries, and developing effective advocacy programs for the growing Hispanic Catholic population.
The grants will help address needs and opportunities created by the increasing number of Hispanics in the United States and the Catholic Church. By 2020, it is estimated that Hispanics will comprise the majority of the Catholic population in the U.S., contributing 71% of the growth of the Catholic Church since 1960, according to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The funds will be particularly helpful for developing Hispanic leaders in the Church. Currently, Hispanic/Latino bishops only make up 9% of all Catholic bishops in the US.
“As the Hispanic Catholic population grows, it is important that we help Hispanics become leaders, not just of other Hispanics, but in the Church as a whole,” said Dr. Arturo Chavez, president and CEO of the Mexican American Catholic College (MACC) and appointee to President Obama’s Council for Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. “Clearly, Catholic Extension recognizes the need to harness the power of this growing demographic by funding key educational opportunities so that a new generation of Church leaders is able to reach beyond cultural boundaries.”
Forty one dioceses across the U.S. will benefit from Catholic Extension’s grants to Hispanic ministries. The Archdiocese of San Antonio will receive $85,000 for MACC to help launch and support its new bilingual BA and MA programs, which advance wide ranging higher education opportunities for Latinos. Upon graduation, students will be prepared to take on multicultural leadership roles in parishes across the country, regardless of ethnic background.
Catholic Extension also has pledged $270,000 to the Diocese of Salt Lake City over the course of five years to help support its burgeoning Hispanic Catholic population. The diocese estimates that the spiritual needs of as many as 200,000 Catholic Hispanics are not being met in Salt Lake City because the growth of this community is dramatically outpacing their current resources. The funds will allow the diocese to create a lay ecclesial minister (LEM) formation program to accommodate Spanish-speaking candidates seeking leadership roles in the Church. The grants will help educate persons to meet the needs of local Spanish-speaking faith communities. Without any local Catholic institutes of higher learning, the diocese has reached beyond its diocesan borders for support. Prominent Hispanic theologians representing theological institutes from around the country will provide content for this leadership program.
“Growth in the U.S. Hispanic Catholic population is a blessing to the U.S. Catholic Church, and presents tremendous leadership potential,” said Joseph Boland, Grants Director for Catholic Extension. “At Catholic Extension, we strive not only to provide financial support for leaders to minister to Hispanics, but we strategize with dioceses to explore new opportunities to educate a new generation of leaders who can communicate and serve the growing and diverse nature of the entire Church.”