Catholic Free Press

Catholic Free Press Digital Edition

  • Apr
  • 18

Church reaches out to newcomers

Posted By April 18, 2013 | 1:06 pm | Lead Story #3, Local
Millions of Spanish-speaking Catholics now live in the United States and their numbers are increasing. “The Church has a mission to reach out to newcomers either being Hispanics or Europeans, Asians, Africans or from anywhere within this world of ours,” said Father Miguel Pagan, Director of the Diocesan Hispanic Apostolate, which is partially funded by the diocesan appeal, Partners in Charity. The annual Partners in Charity Appeal is two thirds of the way to its $5 million goal,

By Patricia O’Connell

CFP Correspondent

Millions of Spanish-speaking Catholics now live in the United States and their numbers are increasing.
“The Church has a mission to reach out to newcomers either being Hispanics or Europeans, Asians, Africans or from anywhere within this world of ours,” said Father Miguel A.Pagan, director of the Diocesan Hispanic Apostolate.
“America represents the Universal Church – all cultures are here,” he noted.
Father Pagan goes on to explain why the Hispanic Apostolate is important.
“When ministering with Hispanics constantly arriving here, the Church has the duty of ministering to these people. This does not enter into the political aspect of immigration,” he said. “The Church offers them the means to nurture their faith as Mother. It offers them basic services that have to do with the social justice our Lord Jesus sent us to provide.”
“The Lord sent the Church with this sacred commission: To express in word and deed the Gospel to all peoples from all origins, cultures, backgrounds,” he added. “To bring them God and bring them to God. It is not to cater to people. It is to work in his name for their salvation.”
“It is so critical that if we get distracted, and instead they (Hispanic Catholics) get the wrong idea that we do not care for them, they could even lose their Catholic faith,” he continued. “For without spiritual shelter they could become prey of error and confusion.”
Father Pagan addressed the issue of people from other denominations and sects approaching Spanish-speaking individuals, with the idea of pulling them away from the Catholic faith.
“We Hispanics know from experience that there is an abundance of other Christian groups willing to jump in and practice proselytism with our Catholic folks,” he said. “If they find themselves alone for (us) not reaching out to them, they could easily find themselves easy target of Hispanic Pentecostals, Adventists, Jehovah Witnesses and even non-Christian groups like Muslims.”
“In Worcester Main South I witnessed the phenomena of Catholic Hispanics embracing Santeria as a religion, which put them in serious spiritual peril,” he stated. “Therefore in the Worcester Diocese Spanish Apostolate there will be hard work to do. “
Father Pagan said the outreach has to be ongoing. He described a cultural trait among Hispanics that others may exploit. He said if someone performs an act of kindness, a recipient feels an allegiance. If there is no Catholic spiritual care, they may feel obligated to visit the benefactor’s church or other worship site.
The Hispanic Apostolate, based at the Cathedral, exists to serve Spanish-speaking Catholics throughout the diocese, said Father Pagan. The apostolate is partially funded by Partners in Charity.
Father Pagan said Mass in Spanish is offered at 13 parishes throughout the diocese. The Mass, he noted, is the basis of this spiritual care.
He hopes the future allows for more Masses in communities where significant numbers of Spanish-speaking Catholics live.
“We have to preach the Good News in all languages,” he added.
Father Pagan said these multiple languages then translate
into one language – the language of the Holy Spirit.
Within the parishes that have a Hispanic Apostolate, and Mass in Spanish, Father Pagan said the Spanish-speaking parishioners want to be a part of the larger community.
“They want to help out,” he said. “They want to be a part of the parish….they want to mingle. They want to be part of the melting pot.”
Having Spanish as their native tongue, he said, does not preclude them from going to Mass in English, if that’s what works better for them on any given weekend.
“If they can’t go to the Mass in Spanish they can go in English,” he said.
Father Pagan assumed duties for the Hispanic Apostolate less than a year ago, and he said he’s still getting a sense of what needs to be done.
He envisions more missionary preaching and more fellowship among the 13 parishes currently part of the Hispanic Apostolate. In the future, he’d like to see more men’s and women’s retreats, as was done in the past.
“There’s a lot to do,” he said.
Father Pagan said the number of Hispanic Catholics has been growing within the Worcester Diocese, as new immigrants move north.
“It has been growing,” he stated. “It could grow more though.”

Partenrs reaches 66 percent of goal

The annual Partners in Charity Appeal is  two thirds of the way to its $5 million goal, according to Michael Gillespie, diocesan director of Stewardship and Development.
As of Wednesday, the Appeal had received gifts and pledges totaling $3,279,421, or 66 percent of the goal, he said. That is about $585,000 more than was received by the same date last year. The average gift is $281.50.
Eight of the 104 parishes and three missions have exceeded their goals. Online giving has reached $195,200, which is $26,800 more than was given online last year at the same date, he said.
Fifty-four members of the St. Paul Society, who pledge at least $5,000, have made gifts or pledges of $562,250 so far. Five new members have joined the Society. Fifty-two of last year’s members have yet to respond this year, he said.
“The generosity of our donors, including our clergy and consecrated religious here in the diocese, is most inspiring,” he said.
 “Daily, we receive packets of mail from donors as far away as Florida and California. Donors who once called our diocese home may have moved away physically but are very much connected with us in our charitable works.
“We are noticing that a growing trend of donors who once gave $100 to the Appeal are now giving $200 and up. Some donors who for a variety of reasons stopped giving have reconnected with the Appeal and are now giving. We also note that we are receiving new gifts from parishes that are sincerely promoting the Appeal at the parish level.”
The annual Partners in Charity Appeal  helps to support charitable, educational and ministerial organizations in the diocese. They include:
Catholic Charities, Clergy Retirement, Retired Priests Health Ministry, Haitian Apostolate, McAuley Nazareth Home for Boys, Pernet Family Health Service, Seminarian Health Insurance, St. John’s Diocesan Cemetery System, Diocesan Development, Stewardship.
Catholic Campus Ministry, Catholic Schools Department, The Office of Religious Education, Ongoing Priestly Formation,Diocesan Youth Ministry, Grants-in-Aid for Catholic School Students, Seminarian Education, Central Catholic Schools Subsidy, Advanced Studies for Clergy and Laity.
African Ministry, Hispanic Ministry, Office of Marriage and Family, Ministry to Priests, Office of the Diaconate, Respect Life Office, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Vocations Office, Office for Divine Worship.