Column: Catholics need to take missionary mandate seriously

by Father Pat Murphy

In my last column I began by quoting a series of figures to indicate something of the state of the Hispanic community in the United States and how it relates to the future of the Catholic Church.

Well, I am back to offer a few suggestions about what we might do in terms of the new evangelization and the Hispanic presence in our country.

However, before getting to that, allow me to offer you a few more figures for reflection:

• 50 million — the number of Hispanics now living in the United States

• 2 — Hispanics in the United States are the second biggest Latino “country” in the world.

• 2041 — the estimated date when whites will become the minority in the United States

• 40 — the percentage of secondgeneration Latino Catholics who give up their faith

• 1731 — the date when the cathedral in San Antonio was established

What can we say about these new numbers? We can clearly say that the community has been in the United States before George Washington, and that they continue to grow. And so, if we want to see the Catholic Church grow, it is time to take our missionary mandate seriously and really embrace Hispanic Catholics.

To make the new evangelization a reality among Hispanics, I suggest the following three key goals:

1) A comprehensive commitment to Hispanic youth — We have invested a lot of money in Catholic schools and they are wonderful institutions for sharing the Catholic faith. I really wish we could send everyone to them but, when it comes to Hispanics, only three to four percent are attending Catholic schools. What about the other 97 percent? I think it is time to invest money and resources in improving our religious education programs so we do not lose the second generation. How about youth ministry? In our archdiocese, there is not one single Hispanic working full time in youth ministry.

2) A moratorium on immigrant bashing — This attitude is not helping the cause of the new evangelization. No doubt we have all sorts of opinions regarding undocumented immigrants. But let’s be honest for a moment: Even if all the undocumented left tomorrow, we would still have 40 million-plus to offer pastoral care to. So let’s keep this in mind as we go about our missionary mandate.

3) Embrace the Hispanic community — They are 50 million strong in the United States and over 100,000 of them are in the archdiocese. So we as church need to seek out the Hispanic community and truly welcome them with Christian hospitality by opening wide the doors of our parishes.

In the end, we have no choice: We either work with the Hispanic community or we lose them!

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