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Column: Why so little interest in our greatest missionary challenge?

by Father Pat Murphy

There is a sportscaster who begins his show with some digits. These are a series of numbers that he shouts out to his listeners, such as 9 . . . 24 . . . 100, and then offers his thoughts on these numbers from the world of sports.

I would like to borrow from this model and share with you a few digits from my world:

• 101,450: The number in our archdiocese who identified themselves as Hispanic in the 2010 census

• 17,026: Hispanics in Topeka

• 12,794: Hispanics in Olathe

• 10,911: Hispanics in Overland Park

• 11: the number of archdiocesan parishes with Hispanic ministry

• 370: the number who attended the archdiocesan ministry convocation

• 130: the number who attended the workshop on the Roman Missal

• 25: those who attended a workshop on “Your Parish and Hispanic Ministry”

• 13: those present at this workshop without active Hispanic ministry in their parish

I have no doubt we could look at these numbers from many different perspectives. However, I would just like to offer us a question for reflection “If we have over 100,000 Hispanics in the archdiocese, how is it possible that in our ministry convocation, attended by 370 people, only 13 ‘new people’ showed interest in Hispanic ministry, while 130 attended a workshop on the Roman Missal?”

Now, I have nothing against the Roman Missal. But I am pastorally perplexed as to why there is so little interest in the greatest missionary challenge facing the Catholic Church in this century — namely, the evangelization of the Hispanic community. Perhaps Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles summarized this challenge best when he said: “In the very near future, the biggest majority in the United States will be Hispanic, but the question remains to be seen if the majority will be Catholic.”

The pastoral digits that I am presenting you are very challenging. For example, just imagine: There are 17,206 Hispanics in Topeka; 12,794 in Olathe; and 10,911 in Overland Park. Yet each of these cities only has one parish with Hispanic ministry.

What can one do to offer an adequate pastoral response? The reality is, we have to start by admitting to ourselves that the majority of the Hispanics presently here in the United States are Catholic and we a have responsibility to offer them a missionary outreach. In fact, if we do not offer them a church to call home, I am quite sure other religions are more than willing to welcome them to their churches.

These digits are real, and we are called to respond — how and what to do I will share in future articles.

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Fr. Pat Murphy

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