(Photo by Caitlin Cunningham)

Lilly Endowment Inc. awards $15 million grant to Boston College to support Hispanic Catholic organizations

Funding will support the School of Theology and Ministry’s Nuevo Momento initiative to strengthen ministerial organizations serving Hispanic Catholics in the U.S.

Lilly Endowment Inc. has awarded a $15 million grant to Boston College to support a project designed to empower ministerial organizations serving Hispanic Catholics to make a stronger impact on the communities they serve and better support the Church’s work at a time when Hispanics constitute nearly half of all Catholics in the United States.

“Nuevo Momento: Leadership and Capacity Building for Ministerial Organizations Serving Hispanic Catholics” is a five-year, collaborative project that aims to strengthen capacity among ministerial organizations led by and serving Hispanic Catholics so they can advance their respective missions more effectively. Through mentorship, formation, leadership training, and a significant level of direct financial support, Nuevo Momento will work with 12 of these organizations to adopt best practices to be more effective in supporting Hispanic and non-Hispanic ecclesial leaders and their ministries. Boston College will work closely with the Leadership Roundtable and other partners to advance these goals.

February 7, 2022 -- Hosffman Ospino, Associate Professor at the School of Theology & Ministry, photographed at Brighton's Saint Columbkille Partnership School.

BC School of Theology and Ministry Associate Professor Hosffman Ospino will direct the Lilly Endowment-funded project Nuevo Momento. (Caitlin Cunningham)

Nuevo Momento will be directed by BC School of Theology and Ministry Associate Professor of Hispanic Ministry and Religious Education Hosffman Ospino, a nationally renowned researcher who has conducted groundbreaking studies on Catholic parishes with Hispanic ministry, Catholic schools serving Hispanic families, Hispanic teachers and leaders in Catholic schools, Hispanic organizations serving young Hispanics, and Hispanic ecclesial vocations. He also is co-principal investigator for “Haciendo  Caminos: Theological Education for New Generations of U.S. Latino/a Catholics,” a Lilly Endowment-funded initiative that involves a five-year longitudinal study on how U.S.-born and U.S.-reared Hispanic Catholics discern callings to ministry.

“There is great energy, wisdom, and experience in many ministerial organizations serving Hispanic Catholics,” noted Ospino. “These organizations creatively advance initiatives that meet the spiritual, pastoral, and intellectual needs of Hispanic Catholics. They are true gifts to the Church in the United States. Yet, many are structurally vulnerable, lacking formal fundraising strategies, stable financial operations, and clear leadership succession plans.”

Nuevo Momento seeks to affirm the strengths of these groups and work with them to develop pathways to build organizational capacity, expand outreach and impact, and better serve their constituents—who represent the largest growing segment of U.S. Catholicism.

“Boston College is profoundly grateful to Lilly Endowment for its generous support of this important project,” said Ospino. “It will strengthen ties of collaboration that are bound to yield many fruits for the good of the Church and the larger society.”

“Nuevo Momento affirms and expands on the STM’s commitment to develop and support pastoral leaders at the service of the Catholic Church,” said STM Dean Michael McCarthy, S.J. “We are proud to have a member of our esteemed faculty, Hosffman Ospino, lead this important project centered on mentoring and supporting a new generation of high-level Hispanic ministerial leaders for an increasingly Hispanic Church.”

Nuevo Momento seeks to affirm the strengths of these groups and work with them to develop pathways to build organizational capacity, expand outreach and impact, and better serve their constituents—who represent the largest growing segment of U.S. Catholicism.

Through the project, each invited organization will participate in three capacity and leadership-building programs that focus on organizational planning, executive ministerial leadership formation, and financial and organizational sustainability. Nuevo Momento will also offer participants organizational networking and ministerial support as well as more than $8.5 million in direct financial resources to invest in personnel development, staffing, and technology needs to achieve long-term organizational goals and sustainability.

According to Ospino, Nuevo Momento aims to empower leaders, staff, and other people involved in carrying out the mission of these organizations to re-envision how they see themselves, how they operate, how they plan and assess their work, how they execute their mission, and how they identify and develop other leaders.

Organizations selected to be part of Nuevo Momento will be invited to nominate candidates who are in high-level leadership positions or are in line to assume such positions, among others, to enroll in a new 36-credit master’s degree in Ministerial Leadership program, specially designed by the STM. The module-based degree will integrate in-person seminars and online formation units, require the design of an innovative capstone project to be implemented in the student’s own organization, and pair students with nationally recognized ministerial leaders and experts as mentors.

Nuevo Momento, Ospino said, will create the conditions and inspire a renewed vision for the 12 participating organizations to advance their missions with more energy and better professional support.

Ospino added: “We hope to generate a movement that eventually leads to multiple efforts replicating Nuevo Momento’s best practices, insights, and activities in order to center the work of ministerial organizations serving Hispanic Catholics.”