A need to reach out to young Latino Catholics

Photo by Alan M. Dumoff

A recent report from the National Study of Catholic Parishes with Hispanic Ministry found that about 55 percent of all Catholics in the United States under 30 are Hispanics. To discern ways to engage these young Latinos, the Diocese of Camden’s Offices of Hispanic Ministry and Youth Ministry partnered for two workshops last week, inviting English- and Spanish-speaking clergy, religious and lay leaders for a day.

On Saturday, May 7, Rudy Gomez, youth coordinator for the Diocese of Trenton, was the main presenter at Vineland’s Saint John Paul II Retreat House. Four days later, Marilyn Santos, director of Mission Education of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States, spoke with participants at Sicklerville’s Saint Charles Borromeo Parish.

Morning sessions shared background on Hispanic youths in the United States, while afternoon presentations challenged participants to find ways to minister to these individuals.

Ministry to Latino youth could take many forms in parishes, depending on the desires and needs of the community, said Andres Arango, Bishop’s Delegate for Hispanic Ministry in the Diocese of Camden. “This ministry can be in English, Spanish, or bi-lingual” depending on the parish community, he said.

“What we need to focus on, is finding a way to bring the presence of Jesus to the young Latinos. We need to build a relationship with them, in truth and love,” he said.

Greg Coogan, diocesan director of Youth Ministry, added that ministering to Latino youth is “urgent, necessary and personal. It’s exciting to plan with and engage all Catholic communities in the multi-cultural and generational realities of being a follower of Jesus.”