Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Hispanic Ministry Leaders Focus On Growing Role

By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published September 4, 2008

More than 250 Hispanic church leaders gathered for a one-day workshop to strengthen their efforts as “co-workers in the vineyard of the Lord.”

The Hispanic Ministry Office hosted the mid-summer event at St. Andrew Church, Roswell, to connect community leaders from across the Atlanta Archdiocese who work with Hispanic Catholics.

“It planted a seed in the leaders. It was an educational opportunity,” said Jairo Martinez, the leader of the Hispanic Ministry Office.

Latinos in north Georgia make up close to half the Catholics in the archdiocese. Sixty-two parishes hold a Spanish Mass weekly out of nearly 100 parishes and missions in the Archdiocese of Atlanta; in 2003 there were about 50.

The July workshop focused on the increased role of ministry in the church by women and men. People examined two documents issued by church leaders. In 2005, U.S. bishops issued “Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord” that examined how Catholics are encouraged to collaborate with church ministry.

The second report studied was the 2007 report of the South American bishops meeting in the Brazilian city of Aparecida. The group studied what are called “ecclesial base communities,” small groups of parishioners that aim to build bridges within the church. Jaime Bascunan, leader of the Hispanic Ministry Council in the Chicago Archdiocese, led this discussion.

Martinez said his office is working to bring people together in small groups to discuss how faith blends with day-to-day concerns.

The ministry office suggested a three-prong approach to help parishes serve Latino Catholics depending on needs. In area’s where Latinos are starting to appear, what is needed is a welcoming ministry. In parishes with an established Hispanic community, leaders need to offer services so the church moves “from a place to a home.”