Latino Catholics have been called to the task of contributing with their faith, devotions, religious tradition, wisdom and sense of mission for our church. In 1910 the U. S. census revealed the presence of 1,672 foreign born Mexicans in Chicago. At least for the past 50 years the Latino Catholics have been working in bringing to our local church their contribution as people of faith in Jesus Christ and in his church intentionally. Currently, out of a total population of 2,342,000 of Catholics in the Archdiocese of Chicago, 1,200,000 are of Latino origin. In other words, officially 44% of the current population of Catholics in Lake and Cook counties is Hispanic. Out of 357 communities of faith and 10 missions more than 140 have Hispanic ministry in different levels. Some of the blessings are the fact that we have an Office for Hispanic Catholics, three vicariate coordinators, around 170 Hispanic permanent deacons and around 174 priests involved in Hispanic ministry. We have a director of Hispanic communications, a director for Hispanic young adults, and representation as Latino Catholics at the Cardinal’s advisory committee along with 42 archdiocesan Hispanic priests, one Hispanic Bishop and a committed group of parish leaders with lots of enthusiasm in working for the Kingdom of God.
At the archdiocesan banquet Noche de Gala, which will take place this Friday July 24th at the Hilton Chicago Hotel on Michigan Ave., we will acknowledge the work of many for Hispanic Ministry. Many people, Latinos and non-Latinos, work very hard to promote a Church that is inclusive, vibrant and integrated. This is not about creating a parallel church. This is about contributing to the Catholic faith with the richness of the Latino community, who they are and what they bring to the table of the Lord. In such the image of the Body of Christ is most fitting: diverse, different parts and functions at the service of one God and one Church. There are many challenges on several levels; to create an effective pastoral plan for teenagers who live language wise and culturally “in between worlds”, to fortify the bridges between Spanish and English speaking realities of our local Church, to enhance the team work between the leadership and the laity, the presence of provincialism and racism, pastoral inertia and others. These are certainly great challenges but Catholics have never run away from “a good fight”. We have great heroes, courageous men and women who were willing to give testimony to the world with their own lives about their faith. Let us continue marching towards the Lord with the awareness that our church has many faces, many accents, many melodies and that they all point at Jesus who died for us. Let us therefore work together so that our Church may continue growing and giving glory to God.