The FCH annual meeting this year took place in Buffalo NY, on May 17. It was a wonderful and productive event with the attendance of 62 participants and the presence and support of 8 publishers.
The conference’s theme for this year’s meeting was “Effective Catechesis with U.S. Born Hispanic Youth.” The main presenters for the topic were Ken Johnson-Mondragón, for the Instituto Fe y Vida and Lynette De Jesus-Saenz, Director of the Office for Cultural Diversity and the Hispanic Pastoral Institute in the Diocese of Rochester, NY. This dynamic and extraordinary duo made an excellent presentation of current statistical information about the young Latino population in the United States.
Ken and Lynette informed, “Statistics show that the vast majority of Hispanic Catholic young people were born and raised in the United States (of second and third generation status). Statistics also show that these same young people are leaving the U.S. Catholic Church in great numbers and are no longer self-identifying themselves as “Catholic”. In addition, a great number of US.-born Hispanics are less committed to parish life and faith traditions when compared to their own immigrant parents and their first-generation peers.” Even though young Latinos are living the Catholic Church, the majority of Catholic youth are Latinos. Every one ministering to Latinos of all ages should be aware of this reality, because these statists affect all levels of ministry in the Latino population.
Ken and Lynette recommended exploring the reasons for this generational breakdown in the transmission of the faith, and to look for more effective practices and methods to reach the young Latino population, especially the U.S. born of Latino descendants. They also recommend devoting more resources to pastoral juvenil. Ken and Lynette questioned the effectiveness of the catechesis offered to Latinos and suggested that catechetical programs for Latinos need to be addressed to determine if they respond to the need of Latinos including programs for the entire family.
Best practices in pastoral juvenil, in different regions around the country were presented. A panel composed by four young Catholic Latino leaders working with youth shared with us their successful experiences working with young people. Armando Cervantes, Director of Youth and Young Adults for the Dioceses of Orange, Maria Perez-Eraci, Coordinator of Youth Ministry for Vicariate V, Archdiocese of Chicago, Guadalupe Ospino, Hispanic Ministry Coordinator St. Patrick’s Church in Laurence Massachusetts and James Carrasco, Coordinator Youth Ministry St. Helen Catholic Church, Portland, Texas. Their presentations were examples of things that are really working in the Latino community.
There was also an election of new officers as member of the board. The new elected members of the leadership team are Diana Pizarro from the Diocese of Rockville Centre, Vice-president; Mr. Martín López from Loyola Press, Finance Officer; and Lori Dahlhoff, Executive Director, Religious Education Department of the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA), Membership Officer. Congratulation to the new members!
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