Groundbreaking STM study on Catholic parishes with Hispanic ministry released
A SUMMARY REPORT ON STM’S ANTICIPATED NATIONAL STUDY OF CATHOLIC PARISHES WITH HISPANIC MINISTRY, released May 5, garnered coverage and commentary in the national mainstream media as well as the Catholic press. The New York Times, Washington Post, Latin Post, Our Sunday Visitor, and the National Catholic Reporter were among outlets that reported on the first-of-its-kind study, which explores the large and expanding Hispanic Catholic presence in the U.S. and the challenges Hispanic ministries present to today’s Church.
The report shows, among other things, that while Hispanics since the 1960s have driven 70 percent of the Church’s growth in the U.S. and now make up 40 percent of the country’s 78 million Catholics, the vast majority of predominantly Spanish-speaking parishes struggle with disproportionately limited resources for ministry.
The twenty-first century American Catholic Church “is in the middle of the most exciting demographic transition since the nineteenth century,” said principal investigator Hosffman Ospino, the STM assistant professor of Hispanic ministry and religious education who led the three-year study.
“The study is not only a sample of the high-quality scholarship being done at the STM, but also a blueprint for the training of Catholic ministers and theological scholars serving in a Church that is increasingly Hispanic.”
Seventeen graduate students from STM and Boston College’s Graduate School of Social Work served as research assistants on the project, surveying the country’s 4,368 Catholic parishes with some form of organized Hispanic ministry. The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University assisted the STM research team in building survey instruments, collecting data, and developing its first round of analysis, said Ospino.
Dean’s Colloquium: The Transformative Power of Faith
Four Catholic leaders and parishioners of churches in some of the country’s poorest communities talked about heeding Pope Francis’s call to advocate for the poor at the third annual Dean’s Colloquium on Religion and Public Culture. STM Dean Mark Massa, S.J., moderated the discussion, “The Transformative Power of Faith,” among (pictured, left to right) José Lopez, Digna R. Lopez, John Hatcher, S.J., and Mary Susanne Dziedzic, C.S.S.F., on March 31 in Robsham Theater. Each panelist has been a recipient or finalist for the Lumen Christi Award, Catholic Extension’s annual recognition of men and women who work to transform lives and communities in America’s mission dioceses. Community members whose lives have been affected by the ministry of the Lumen Christi honorees also contributed to the discussion, which was cosponsored by Catholic Extension.
“You have to create leadership among the laity, and your leaders are your bridge-builders,” said Digna Lopez, the Hispanic ministry director of the Stockton, California, diocese. To connect with a community rife with violent crime and drugs, Lopez said she recruits a few at-risk youths and “trusts that they will be the evangelizers of their own peers.”
Hatcher, president of St. Francis Mission, a Jesuit ministry on a South Dakota Sioux reservation, said the Church often assumes “a very clerical relationship with lay people,” which can make parishioners feel “like children.” To foster more mature relationships, Hatcher entrusts Catholic Sioux with key roles—at recovery centers and suicide hotlines, for example.
Lopez’s husband, José, the diocese’s migrant ministry director, added that missionaries should “look at the reality of what [congregants] need, not at what you want from them.” Since he adjusted his schedule around the migrant farmers’ harvest season, Lopez said, the farmers’ involvement in the Church has increased significantly.
Politics, Faith, and Prophetic Witness
Evelyn Underhill Lecture in Christian Spirituality
Saturday, July 12, 10:00 a.m. | Robsham Theater | Chestnut Hill Campus
Presenter: Simone Campbell, S.S.S., Executive Director of NETWORK
Cardinal Walter Kasper visits STM
In a century shaped by two world wars, genocides that claimed nearly 100 million lives, and terrorist attacks, “We see what it means to live in a merciless world,” Cardinal Kasper told a capacity crowd in the Heights Room on May 1. The German cardinal, who is president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and author of Mercy: The Essence of the Gospel and the Key to Christian Life (Paulist Press, 2014) visited STM to speak about “The Message of Mercy and Its Importance Today” and to celebrate Mass at the Rite of Sending Forth for graduating STM students. In his lecture, he affirmed the need to bring mercy to the center of the Church.
Contrary to what many Catholics assume, “God in the Old Testament is not of anger and revenge, but of love, kindness, and compassion,” Kasper said. Citing God’s ultimate forgiveness in the flood narrative in Genesis and Moses and the Burning Bush in Exodus, Kasper noted, “Mercy is victorious over justice in God.”
In the Gospels, mercy takes “the central” role, Kasper said. In the parables of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son in particular, Jesus teaches that “God’s sovereignty is revealed above all in forgiving and pardoning” and “merciful love is the final criterion of being a Christian,” he said.
“So if God is so merciful, why is the Church not the same?” Kasper asked, referencing the “uneasiness of many Christians today.” He addressed some of the Church’s inconsistencies, such as the paradox of the doctrine of universal forgiveness and the practice of denying divorced parishioners absolution. He has proposed, he said, that the Synod of Bishops discuss this issue at their meeting on the family this fall. “Canon law should be interpreted and applied in the light of mercy,” he said.
Cardinal Kasper also charged the Church with “overlooking” the needs of the poor, particularly in the Southern Hemisphere, where Christianity is growing most rapidly. “The Church without charity and mercy would no longer be the Church of Christ,” he said. He commended Pope Francis’s advocacy for the impoverished, and called for the rest of the Church to be better models of mercy. “Our mercy gives future to a world that needs it so much,” he concluded.
“If Heaven Be Your Destiny! The World of American Catholicism, 1945–1965”
On display April 1–June 1 at the Theology and Ministry Library, "If Heaven Be Your Destiny! The World of American Catholicism, 1945–1965” introduced younger Catholics to the world of religious piety and worship that shaped the lives of mid-twentieth century American Catholics. The exhibition of images and artifacts from the John J. Burns Library Liturgy and Life Collection featured household and devotional objects, statuettes, liturgical clothing, and enlargements of a wide range of Catholic pamphlets from the era.
Boston College conferred advanced degrees on 123 STM students during the 2013–14 academic year. Graduates celebrated May 19 at the University’s 138th Commencement.
The STM Summer Institute this year is offering a special “audit rate” for those engaged in full-time ministry who would like to sit in on any of more than 15 summer courses. Register now for the second and third sessions; please contact Brian Niemiec for more information.
Read more about the Summer Institute »
The New England Maritimes region of the American Academy of Religion elected James T. Bretzke, S.J., its regional executive coordinator at its annual conference. The April 26 event, which was organized by Bretzke, was held at STM. He also published “Debating Intrinsic Evil: Navigation between Shibboleth and Gauntlet” in Horizons and was interviewed by several media outlets for news stories about Pope Francis.
Thomas H. Groome launched the Swedish translation and publication of his book Will There Be Faith with a weeklong series of presentations and workshops throughout Sweden.
Paulist Press published All Holy Men and Women: A Paulist Litany of Saints by Thomas A. Kane, C.S.P.
Richard Lennan published “A Continuing Pilgrimage: Ecclesiology Since Vatican II,” in the Australasian Catholic Record, and “Evangelii Gaudium: The Good News from Pope Francis,” in Compass.
Mark S. Massa, S.J., spoke at the New England meeting of the American Society of Church History.
Theresa A. O’Keefe addressed “Youth Ministry in a Busy World” in a webinar for the Loyola Institute for Ministry of Loyola University New Orleans.
Hosffman Ospino received an anonymous grant to survey 1,500 U.S. schools associated with Catholic parishes with Hispanic ministry. He also contributed “U.S. Latino/a Practical Theology” to the book Opening the Field of Practical Theology: An Introduction (Rowman and Littlefield Publishers) and coauthored an article, “Religious beliefs and cancer screening behaviors among Catholic Latinos: Implications for faith-based interventions,” that appeared in the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved.