Catholic Free Press

Catholic Free Press Digital Edition

  • Mar
  • 31

Hispanic Ministry still vital

Posted By March 31, 2017 | 12:48 pm | Lead Story #1
Tanya Connor | CFP file photo

Hispanic communities from parishes around the diocese participate in the annual Patronal Feast Mass at St. Paul Cathedral, last September. People from St. John Paul II Parish in Southbridge prepare to bring up the gifts, assisted by the pastoral assistant, Sister Rosa Maria Campos, of the Oblate Sisters to Divine Love.
Tanya Connor | CFP file photo Hispanic communities from parishes around the diocese participate in the annual Patronal Feast Mass at St. Paul Cathedral, last September. People from St. John Paul II Parish in Southbridge prepare to bring up the gifts, assisted by the pastoral assistant, Sister Rosa Maria Campos, of the Oblate Sisters to Divine Love.

Parishes take on more responsibility

By Tanya Connor | The Catholic Free Press

Keeping a vibrant Spanish community at St. John Paul II Parish in Southbridge is very important, as some evangelical churches are aggressively proselytizing Hispanic Catholics, said Father Peter Joyce, pastor.
His parish is one of six parishes that receives Partners in Charity funding for Hispanic ministry.
This year is the 60th anniversary of a Latino presence in town, he said; in 1957 Catholics from Puerto Rico settled there. The church’s outreach to the Hispanic community began soon afterwards.
Partners logo WebNow the town includes people who move back and forth between Puerto Rico and Southbridge, and Hispanics from various countries, Father Joyce said. New immigrants tend to start out elsewhere in the county because Southbridge doesn’t have many employment opportunities, he said. But once they get jobs and vehicles, they move to Southbridge, he noted.
In Worcester, Partners money “does help a lot,” Msgr. Francis J. Scollen, pastor of St. Peter Parish said. “Anything helps here; we have a lot of poor people.” The parish has underemployed people, new immigrants, students and elders on fixed incomes, he explained.
The parish also has many Hispanic, African and Anglo professionals, he said, and parishioners are very generous. He said Hispanics are involved in all aspects of parish life.
As Hispanic families become more established in the community and in their parishes, they contribute more resources toward a ministry that serves their peers.
Money earmarked by Partners in Charity specifically for Hispanic ministry is lower than in previous years.
The diocese wants all parishioners to support the ministry more, Msgr. Scollen said.
St. Peter’s is getting a monthly stipend and uses it to pay part of the salary for Father Andres A. Araque, who ministers mostly to Hispanics, Msgr. Scollen said. Father Araque serves part time at St. Peter’s and part time at St. Joan of Arc Parish in Worcester, which also receives Partners money for its Hispanic community.
Msgr. Scollen said Father Araque is very helpful, celebrating Masses, weddings and funerals, doing baptisms and counseling, attending parish meetings and helping people with immigration needs.
St. Peter’s, with its mission church, St. Andrew the Apostle, has seven Masses per weekend, but cannot afford two full-time priests, Msgr. Scollen said. Priests not assigned there are paid just for the Masses they celebrate. The parish also has three permanent deacons and other staff members.
Father Joyce said the Partners money that St. John Paul II receives pays for part of the salary of the pastoral assistant, Sister Rosa Maria Campos, who is one of the Oblate Sisters to Divine Love.
The parish pays the rest of her salary, her medical insurance and expenses for a vehicle for her to use, as well as for materials needed for the ministry, he said. (The parish gives her salary to her religious community, which gives her a stipend.)
Hispanic ministry at St. John Paul II includes Masses, religious education, sacramental preparation, bereavement support, and apostolic groups, Father Joyce said. Much of the ministry has been assimilated into the whole parish community.
Father Joyce said that 20 years ago St. Mary Parish in Southbridge was receiving $20,000 per year for Hispanic ministry. He’s was pastor there then, and stayed on as pastor of St. John Paul II when it was formed from St. Mary’s and other parishes.
More responsibility for funding Hispanic ministry has been passed on to the parish as Hispanics became more established at work and can contribute more to the parish, he said. This challenges them to practice stewardship, which the parish works toward, he said.
“We would love to be able to have more,” he said of Partners money; the parish has financial challenges.
But the Partners allocation has gone down, and is decreasing further.
In fiscal year 2016 (Sept. 1, 2015 through Aug. 31, 2016) Partners contributed $74,990 to Hispanic Ministry in parishes, said Paul G. Schasel, director of fiscal affairs for the diocese. The amount budgeted for fiscal year 2017 is $61,435.
Part of the national Collection for the Church in Latin America is added to Partners money for Hispanic ministry, Mr. Schasel said. (A diocese keeps some of what it collects for use in its Hispanic communities. The rest goes to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to distribute.)
For fiscal 2016, $30,000 from the Latin America collection was added to the Partners money, bringing the total for Hispanic ministry to $104,990, Mr. Schasel said. For fiscal year 2017, $20,000 is expected to be added to the Partners money, bringing the total to $81,435.
Mr. Schasel said part of the total is broken into equal  subsidies for six of the diocese’s parishes which have Hispanic communities. The rest pays a salary and benefits for Father Angel R. Matos, associate pastor of St. Paul Cathedral, who ministers to Hispanics there.
In addition to Father Matos’ salary and benefits, St. Paul’s received a $12,000 annual subsidy in fiscal year 2016, and $8,000 is budgeted for fiscal 2017, Mr. Schasel said. The other parishes getting these amounts are St. Peter’s, St. Joan of Arc, and Our Lady of Providence, all in Worcester; St. John Paul II in Southbridge, and St. John, Guardian of Our Lady in Clinton. The pastors determine how to use that money and must raise whatever else they need for Hispanic ministry.
Money from these sources does not fund the other parishes in the diocese which have Hispanic communities. Nor does it fund the Hispanic Apostolate, directed by Deacon Franklin B. Lizardo, Mr. Schasel said.
The Apostolate is funded by collections taken at annual diocesan-wide Hispanic celebrations at St. Paul Cathedral, according to Deacon Lizardo, who works out of the Cathedral parish.
In addition to organizing such events, Deacon Lizardo acts as a liaison between Bishop McManus and the Hispanic communities in parishes, he said. He visits those communities and communicates with the bishop about them.
Ministries he is working on, or plans to work on, through the Apostolate include providing immigration information, marriage preparation, formation of youth leaders and other laity, Spanish-language radio programs, and men’s and women’s conferences. Another task is keeping up the Hispanic ministry section of the diocesan website,, he noted.
Father Miguel A. Pagán, a chaplain at St. Vincent Hospital who also does Hispanic ministry at St. Louis Parish in Webster, is helping with the lay formation, Deacon Lizardo said.


Church working to embrace, promote gifts of Hispanic Catholics


By Tanya Connor | The Catholic Free Press

Hispanic communities in the Worcester Diocese are participating in a major national initiative, according to Deacon Franklin B. Lizardo, director of the diocesan Hispanic Apostolate.
That initiative is the Fifth National Encounter of Hispanic/Latino Ministry, or “V Encuentro.” (Encuentro is Spanish for encounter.)
“The V Encuentro is an initiative of the Bishops of the United States calling all Catholic leaders to listen with profound attention to the needs, challenges and aspirations that the growing Hispanic/Latino population faces in daily life,” says the initiative’s website,
“It especially prepares us as a Church to better recognize, embrace, and promote the many gifts and talents that the Hispanic community shares in the life and mission of the Church, and in the society.”
Hispanic Catholics in the United States have held encuentros periodically since the first one in 1972.
“For the whole country, this is huge,” Deacon Lizardo said. “This is the Hispanic Church in the United States.”
First, parishes are each to hold reflection sessions, then a parish encuentro. Diocesan and regional encuentros follow, then the National Encuentro, scheduled for Sept. 20-23, 2018 in the Diocese of Fort Worth in Texas.
Deacon Lizardo said all but one of the Hispanic communities of parishes in the Worcester Diocese is engaged in the process, and some have started holding their reflection sessions.
After that, they are to hold their parish encuentro, sometime during the Easter season or June, he said. He ministers as a deacon at St. Paul Cathedral, which hasn’t yet set a date for the parish encuentro, he said.
Deacon Lizardo said he is coordinating the team for the Worcester Diocesan Encuentro, to be held Sept. 9, 2017 at a place yet to be determined. He is a member of the team for the Region I Encuentro, to be held sometime between January and June 2018.
And he is to be one of four official representatives from the diocese attending the National Encuentro, with other representatives still to be determined, he said. He expressed hope that Bishop McManus will go. Other interested people can go on their own.
The theme for the V Encuentro is “Missionary Disciples: Witnesses of God’s Love.”
The scriptural story of the two disciples encountering the risen Christ on the road to Emmaus is being used. After that encounter, these confused, disappointed disciples became witnesses who told others how they met the risen Christ. (Lk 24:13-35)
The encuentro process aims to help all U.S. Catholics, not just Hispanics, go out to meet confused, disappointed people, and help them encounter Jesus and become missionaries themselves.
“We want to walk with those people” – not expect them to come to us in church initially, Deacon Lizardo explained.
That’s where the reflection sessions come in. The deacon said different groups within a parish each participate in the five sessions. Some local Hispanics plan to invite Anglos and hold bilingual sessions, he said. National materials in Spanish and English guide participants in following the process.
Session themes, inspired by Pope Francis’ call to foster a culture of encounter, are: “Called to a Loving Encounter with Jesus in the Church,” “With Words and Actions: Do it!” “Walking Together with Jesus,” “Bearing Fruits of New Life,” and “Celebrating the Joy of Being Missionary Disciples.”
Sessions participants are to go out to Catholics and non-Catholics who are not coming to church, especially youth and families, ask them about themselves, record what they learn and bring them to Christ and the Church. One way to do this is to hold reflection sessions outside of churches, such as at universities and prisons. Another is to invite people to the parish encuentro.
Summaries of what encuentro participants learn are to be put in a bilingual report to be given to Bishop McManus and the diocesan team at the Diocesan Encuentro, Deacon Lizardo said. Diocesan reports are to be given to the regional encuentro team and regional reports to the national team. The reports are just for Church use, so action plans can be formed from them.

– See for more information in Spanish