.- As new statistics show the accelerated growth of the Hispanic population in many areas of the country, the U.S. bishops’ conference has launched a Spanish-language Facebook page.
Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, who heads the U.S. bishops' communications committee, explained that “Hispanics make up 16 percent of the total U.S. population, almost 40 percent of U.S. Catholics, and 50 percent of U.S. Catholics under age 25."
"It is critically important to engage this demographic, especially through the expanding field of social media, and provide them with accurate, quality information that encourages them to grow in their faith," he said.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has operated an English-language Facebook page for about three years, reaching more than 40,000 people.
The bishops’ conference is also active on Twitter in both Spanish and English.
The new Spanish-language Facebook page will seek to reach out more effectively to Hispanic Catholics. It features news stories from within the bishops’ conference and the broader Catholic world, as well as quotes from saints and information on faith-building resources.
Also posted on the social media page are pictures and information about Mother Teresa’s missionary work in Latin America.
The Facebook page’s launch corresponds with National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs Sept. 15 - Oct. 15.
The U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for Cultural Diversity recently released new statistics on the growth of Hispanic populations in dioceses throughout the country.
These statistics indicate that 1 in 4 counties have doubled their Hispanic population since 2000, and there are now more than 10 million Hispanic family households in the U.S.
Among younger generations, the Hispanic population is particularly prominent, making up more than half of U.S. adult Catholics born after 1982.
According to the 2010 U.S. Census, states including Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, North and South Carolina and Tennessee have seen more than 100 percent growth in Hispanic presence over the last ten years.
By 2050, the Census Bureau predicted, 30 percent of the total U.S. population will be Hispanic.
Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ cultural diversity committee, addressed the Hispanic community in a Spanish video message on the new Facebook page.
The bishops "are grateful for the rich contributions of culture and faith that Hispanics bring to this country and to our Catholic Church," he said.
He welcomed the Hispanic community to use the new page to "communicate and dialogue with us."