On Tuesday the Hispanic Seminary of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, which provides priestly formation for Hispanic vocations from the United States, celebrated its fifth anniversary.
The anniversary ceremony, which was attended by Bishop Jose Gomez, Auxiliary Bishop of Denver and member of the seminary’s board of directors, also marked the beginning of the new academic year for the more than 30 seminarians from the US and Canada.
During his remarks, Bishop Gomez emphasized the growing challenges for Hispanic ministry in the US, recalling that although the US is a country of immigrants, “the volume of the Hispanic population, which is without precedent or comparison with any other wave of immigrants in the past, reveals the complexity involved in assimilating and appropriately integrating this population, without sacrificing its values, and explains why xenophobic expressions are becoming common.”
Bishop Gomez also pointed out that although “a formal response of support for immigrants” exists among US bishops, society is “overwhelmed: in Colorado, for example, where Catholics were originally 17% of the population, the growth of the Hispanic population, which in the last 10 years has been 76%, is overwhelming to any institution, far beyond anyone’s good will and good intentions.”
The bishop emphasized, however, that “true Hispanic ministry is above all pastoral. The Church, expert in humanity, as the Council says, cares for man as an integral being, but she recognizes that hers is not the task of being a non-governmental organization or a replacement for the failures of the state or a mere social or cultural agent.”
“She is, above all, preacher of the Gospel, with the responsibility of bringing people, as Ecclesia in America says, to a personal encounter with the Lord Jesus, so that from there she can respond to the integral challenges facing Hispanics in the United States.”
“As Catholics,” said Bishop Gomez, “we believe that the Lord Jesus is the Lord of history, and that for some reason He has desired that this massive wave of immigrants take place in the most powerful country on earth. Part of Hispanic ministry to ask what we Hispanics can contribute if we do not adequately integrate”
Regarding the hopeful future of the Hispanic seminary, its rector, Fr. Rodrigo Benitez Flores, said, “We continue to pray for more priestly vocations in order to respond to the pastoral needs of the United States.”