Catholic Hispanic ministries lack funding and committed personnel, study finds


A recent study that focused on Hispanic ministries across the country found that most Hispanic ministries are underfunded, overworked, and have problems retaining staff over time.

The study surveyed a group of existing Hispanic ministries of varying age, with the majority having been founded in response to the first “Encuentro Nacional Hispano” (Hispanic National Encounter) in 1972. About half of the organizations are less than two decades old.

Professor Tim Matovina of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at Notre Dame said that the results “underscore(s) what many Hispanic ministry leaders have been saying: the major challenge in nearly all national and regional Hispanic ministry organizations is the curtailment of their mission due to a severe lack of fiscal and consequently personnel resources.”

“Bolstering the structures that sustain Hispanic ministry is one of the most urgent strategic goals for the vitality of Latino Catholic faith,” alerted Prof. Matovina.

The study found that many of the organizations ministering to Hispanics are underfunded, which leads to a slew of difficulties. Some of the common barriers to effective ministry include an overabundance of work for a small staff, a high turnover rate in the leadership, a dependency on volunteers that causes a lack of continuity and constant change in the way things are done.  The study also noted a limited efficiency in outreaching to youth or to Hispanics who are not affiliated with a parish.

“The USCCB’s assessment of Hispanic ministry organizations and their initiatives, provides important data necessary for promoting best practices across a range of temporal issues facing the Church. These include: effective management, sufficient budgets, strategic planning, sustainable fundraising, adequate staffing, and high quality leadership development,” said Jesuit Father Allan Figueroa Deck, executive director of the Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church.

“Without this, we will fail as a community to meet the current and future needs of the Hispanic community and all those served by the Church,” he added.

The Hispanic and Latino community has grown to occupy a significant place in the American Catholic Church in recent decades. According to the USCCB’s department of Hispanic Affairs, Hispanics/Latinos comprise more than 35 percent of the Catholics in the U.S. They have also contributed 71 percent of the growth of the Catholic Church in the United States since 1960 and more than 50 percent of all Catholics in the United States under age 25 are of Hispanic/Latino descent.”

The results of the study will be reviewed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Cultural Diversity, which will listen to the advice of the advisory board before taking any steps to address the situation.

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