.- The Catholic Association of Latino Leaders opened its newest chapter in Washington, D.C. on March 23, with a ceremony at the Vatican's embassy to the United States.
Washington, D.C.'s Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl presided at the commissioning ceremony, which also featured remarks from Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles and U.S. papal nuncio Archbishop Pietro Sambi. Archbishop Gomez was among the association's founding members at its beginning in 2007.
As an organization of the lay faithful, the Catholic Association of Latino Leaders has a twofold focus on strengthening Latino Catholics' faith lives, and influencing the direction of American society in keeping with Catholic social and moral teachings.
The association’s president and CEO, Robert Aguirre, took the opportunity to explain the organization's purpose to attendees at the opening ceremony.
“First and foremost, CALL is about taking the individual responsibility to transform our lives through spiritual renewal and growth,” said Aguirre.
“Second, it is about fulfilling our individual and collective responsibility to speak out and speak strongly on the important issues of our time.”
“Today, more than ever,” he reflected, “we are challenged on issues that strike to the very heart of respect for human life, human dignity, and social justice.”
Aguirre explained that the group’s foundational document is the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' 1998 pastoral statement, “Living the Gospel of Life: A Challenge to American Catholics.” He summarized the document as a call for a “renewal” of Catholic action “in our public life and our institutions.”
He stated that the association “seeks to meet this challenge, and fulfill our responsibility, in several ways” – beginning with the formation of local chapters focused on prayer and planning, and continuing with analysis and advocacy on social questions from a Catholic perspective.
Aguirre concluded his remarks by recalling a saying of Archbishop Gomez. “Our beloved founder and Episcopal Moderator,” he recalled, “once wrote: 'Justice in society begins in the human heart.'”
“CALL’s mission and purpose is no different,” Aguirre said. “In begins in our hearts.”
“Our prayer tonight is that, together, we will grow in our discipleship to be leaven in the world, salt of the earth, and a light to our nation.”
The association's Washington, D.C. chapter is its eighth, following the establishment of branches in Phoenix, Denver, Dallas, Miami, Milwaukee, Los Angeles, and San Antonio. In addition to its new Washington, D.C. chapter, the association is also working to form a branch in New York.