Members of the Hispanic Ministry Commission, during the missioning ceremony on Oct. 28 in Blackwood: Diácono Rene Zayas, Amada Fernández, Father Joel Arciga, Blas Ibarra and Nelva Ancona. Below left, commission member Celia Gutiérrez at the ceremony.
It is with great joy that we have witnessed a few initiatives undertaken by our Bishop Joseph Galante regarding Hispanic Ministry for the Camden Diocese. First and foremost, his desire to establish an Hispanic Ministry Commission as addressed in a letter to pastors and parochial Vicars serving at parishes with mostly Spanish speaking communities. The bishop wrote: “The purpose of this letter is to introduce you to the concept of an Hispanic Ministry Formation Commission for the Diocese of Camden. It flows from the goals expressed above, taken from the Pastoral Plan for Hispanic Ministry and from the current needs in our diocese.
“Given the ever increasing numbers of Spanish-speaking people throughout the diocese and a deep desire to better help parishes do ministry, I would like to form an Hispanic Ministry Commission with representatives from different Hispanic cultures,” he continued. “The commission members would be chosen and appointed by and meet directly with me several times annually. It is my sincere hope that this commission will help all of us not only to better understand but also to gain a stronger appreciation of Hispanic cultures, spirituality, devotional life, customs and traditions so that we may embrace our Hispanic sisters and brothers in mutual appreciation. Thus, this new commission will enable our Hispanic parishioners and ourselves to become ‘leaven for the Kingdom of God in society.’”
Bishop Galante’s words resonated clearly and loudly at the meeting held with pastors and parochial vicars on Oct. 28 at Pius X Spiritual Life Center in Blackwood. In attendance at this meeting were Sister Roseann Quinn, SSJ, Delegate for Lifelong Faith Formation; Linda K. Robinson, Director for Lay Ministry Formation; and Sister Sonia Avi, IHM, Associate Director for Lifelong Faith Formation for Hispanics. Bishop Joseph Galante cordially shared his vision with those present before offering the opportunity for conversation on successes and challenges in ministry and in life. Everybody found it to be very informative. It was obvious that Bishop Galante’s initiative for Hispanic Ministry was well received by all.
The very same day, Oct. 28 at 7 p.m., Bishop Galante met with a group of representatives from the many Latino cultures present in our diocese today. This meeting was held at the John Paul II Retreat House in Vineland. In attendance were Sister Roseann Quinn, SSJ, and Sister Sonia Avi, IHM. As expected, a spirit of “fiesta” reigned from the beginning. Bishop Galante, once again, expressed his desire to have a Hispanic Ministry Commission by emphasizing the urgency for all to live out one’s baptismal calling to bring unity among God’s people as modeled by the Trinity. Among the many comments heard were: “Bishop Galante has made me feel so important!” “What a privilege to be talking to my bishop on a one to one basis!”; “What an honor to be representing our cultures of origin!”; “I am so grateful knowing that our bishop has finally noticed us!”