In September, Boston College hosted the first National Symposium on Hispanic Catholicism and Ecclesial Movements. The symposium brought together some 55 pastoral leaders, including bishops, researchers, and experts in lay ecclesial movements from around the United States.

Hosffman Ospino, associate professor of theology and religious education at the School of Theology and Ministry, chaired the symposium’s steering committee, which also included Timothy Matovina from the University of Notre Dame, Kathia Arango from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and Andrés Arango from the Diocese of Camden.

“Bringing together pastoral leaders, scholars, and movement experts models the type of conversations that Catholic universities like Boston College are expected to foster,” said Ospino.

The symposium focused on lay ecclesial movements in the context of Hispanic Catholicism. Research and pastoral practice have shown that these movements are key sources of spiritual and apostolic energy in Hispanic faith communities, particularly in Hispanic ministry. More than half of parishes with these ministries have an active Catholic Charismatic Renewal group.

Unfortunately, many of these movements’ theological underpinnings and their ways of serving parish communities remain widely unknown to a large number of pastoral leaders, many of whom look at these movements with suspicion.

“We cannot afford to ignore the presence of such movements. This symposium was a great opportunity to discern their role in the context of Hispanic ministry,” Ospino said.

We cannot afford to ignore the presence of such movements. This symposium was a great opportunity to discern their role in the context of Hispanic ministry.
Hosffman Ospino, STM Associate Professor of Hispanic Ministry and Religious Education

The symposium illustrated how Hispanic ministry in parish life can be more in harmony with the energy that the lay ecclesial movements bring to these communities. It generated important resources that will be of service to parishes, dioceses, organizations, and centers of pastoral leader formation.

“Catholicism in the United States is being renewed by the rich Hispanic Catholic experience,” said Ospino. “At the center of that Hispanic experience, we encounter the energy and creativity of many movements that are driven by a profound love of Jesus Christ, openness to the work of the Holy Spirit, and a desire to evangelize.”

Thirteen short study documents building upon current research, strong analysis, and pastoral experience guided the weekend’s conversation, and are now being revised, edited, and published in the form of a book in two languages (English and Spanish), led by Ospino.

Study topics include the place Catholic movements have in the Church, canonical dynamics related to ecclesial movements, ecclesial movements and Hispanic ministry, the evangelizing potential of ecclesial movements, relationships among movements, diocesan and parish leaders and structures, and the social commitment of ecclesial movements in Hispanic communities.

According to Ospino, the symposium provided a great opportunity to reflect on the various ways the Holy Spirit is moving the Church in the United States in this century.