From the beginning of Catholicism in the United States, there has always been growth in the Catholic religion in terms of numbers. Hispanics/Latinos in the United States are not a problem for the Catholic Church
Of the 77 million U.S. Catholics today, 43% are of the Spanish culture and of those under the age of 30yrs, 55%. are Hispanic/Latino. Even more significant, approximately 60% of them are under the age of 18. This tells us, that the future of Catholicism in the United States is linked to the Hispanic/Latino experience.
With the growing population of Hispanics/Latinos, the United States Catholic Church is faced with an immense task How to evangelize and hand on the faith we have received to the next generation of Catholics who will be transforming the American Catholic experience in this century?
Most parishes in the USA were established in the Northeast and the Midwest part of the, country because it was where incoming immigrants settled, establishing Catholic schools in the process.
A survey asking pastors what was their biggest concern, found aging and finances topped the list in the Northeast and Midwest, United States, while in the South and West the answer was parking. They don’t have enough parking places to accommodate all the Hispanic/Latino parishioners.
Unlike almost every Catholic group in the United States, Hispanics/Latinos tend to remain Catholic. Secondly, they are a very young population. While the average age of white Catholics in the United States is 45yrs. , the average age for their culture is 27. These young people need to be the focus of the Church’s investment in resources and ministries.
There also is growth in Hispanic/Latino ministry in terms of the permanent diaconate, with close to 3,000 at present, a number estimated to double in 10 years.
However, Hispanic/Latino Catholics are struggling because they do not have the financial resources to be educated and trained, so there is a strong need for philanthropy investment here.
Half of all Catholics in the USA, enrolled in ministerial programs or ministerial formation programs, are Hispanic or Latino. It is necessary to get them into pathways for pastoral institutes, seminaries, houses of formation and universities.
In Catholic parishes with Hispanic/Latino ministry, two thirds of Baptisms and First Communions and half of all Confirmations are of their children. There is a lot of vitality in their religious education programs.
Doing the study, it was surprising to discover waiting lists for religious education programs in Texas and California, with as many as 1,200 to 1,500 children waiting to be enrolled!
Note: This article was obtained from a recent presentation of a major study conducted by Boston College on Catholic parishes with Hispanic/Latino ministry.
The Boston College study was conducted from 2011 to 2014, and surveyed dioceses, organizations and pastoral leaders. It identified 4,362 parishes nationwide serving Hispanic/Latino Catholics, and focused on leadership issues and how the growing number of their children are being evangelized and educated in the church.
In the city of Springfield, Massachusetts, the most recent census showed that 47% were Hispanic/Latino. The adjoining city had similar statistics.
Mary Farm (Diocesan CVS Center) in the Springfield Diocese is currently striving to get Spanish speaking individuals into the CVS Apostolate. One of our biggest problems is bringing both the North & South Americans together (English and Spanish speaking). Most of the younger Hispanic/Latino people speak both languages but resist to uniting cultures, except in those churches where the parish has a mixture of both. There is a need to overcome the sense of mistrust from both cultures.
Note #2 There is a difference between Latino and Hispanic. It is determined by what country they come from. In the Diocese of Springfield we have an official Diocesan “Latino Ministry” The name Latino: is used for both cultures in our diocese, despite what country they come from.