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Hispanics and a changing church.

Most of the 54 participants in the Refocusing Hispanic Ministry for the New Century symposium, convoked in February by the U.S. Catholic bishops' Committee on Hispanic Affairs in Colorado Springs, Colorado, knew each other: They had shared three Hispanic Encuentros and many years of history, memories, and struggles. They were the leaders of national, regional, and diocesan Hispanic ministry organizations. As the symposium started, the air was familiar and the language laden with the same expressions that have been used for the past 30 years: historic memory, people on the move, the reflection from the "bases" (grass roots), pastoral de conjunto (integral ministry), the see-judge-act method, and the richness and contributions of the Hispanic community to the church of the United States.

But there was something very different about the way in which all these terms were used as these leaders sensed the potentially revolutionary power of this gathering. The symposium was conceived as a pastoral and theological reflection on Hispanic ministry based on Encuentro 2000. For some, last year's Encuentro gathering in Los Angeles simply signified a moment of celebration of the diversity of the U.S. church in the third millennium. Its deeper significance, however, did not escape most of the leaders of Hispanic ministry organizations throughout the country.

The changing face of the house of God that Encuentro 2000 celebrated implies not just a change of color but a profound change of structures. It requires a type of translation that transcends all grammar and syntax and even words. The community of believers had until now thought in patterns particular to a monolingual, monocultural world, with certain concessions to the minority immigrant cultures constantly arriving in the country--until they could be fully assimilated.

That is no longer possible in the third millennium. Hispanic ministry is being translated from "ministry to Hispanics" to the "ministry of Hispanics in the whole U.S. church." That is quite a change for which Hispanic leaders are too painfully aware they are not quite prepared, despite the great strides made in leadership training, education, the recognition of the role of women in the church and society, and the great contributions the Hispanic community has made to church and society in the United States.

The symposium participants have a very clear sense of what the journey ahead entails: education, education, and education--of Hispanics themselves, their leaders, and the rest of the church, who need to be trained to think and feel in Spanish, as Hispanics learn to think and feel in all the other languages of the house of God in this country.
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Title Annotation:Encuentro 2000
Publication:U.S. Catholic
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2001
Next Article:GOOD NEWS.

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