On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, I attended the 25th annual meeting of the NCCHM (National Council for Catholic Hispanic Ministry) at Catholic Theological Union (my alma mater) here in Chicago. These were three exhausting days for me, chiefly due to the fact that, although I studied and spoke Spanish in high school and college, my Spanish language skills are woefully lacking these days. More than half of the presentations were in Spanish; I was the only non-Spanish speaker in the room of over 70 people. I did catch most of what was being said, but the intense concentration was really challenging for me. There were presentations on the so-called "Francis Effect," panel discussions about the past, present, and future of Hispanic/Latino/a ministry and presence in the United States, as well as a great presentation on technology and the Hispanic/Latino/a Church. Members of the WLP staff strongly recommended that I attend; they felt that I needed this kind of intense exposure to the discussion about Hispanic/Latino/a ministry here in the U.S. and they were absolutely right.
I came away with a sense that there needs to be a real paradigm shift here in the United States; a movement away from the "Hispanic Ministry Office" model in dioceses toward a much more holistic model, in which we see ourselves as one Church whose offices are not separated into language or ethnic groups. There simply needs to be several offices in dioceses, but each office is responsible for the whole Church, with its multiple layers of language and ethnicity.
I was also challenged to examine our mission here at WLP: "to serve and inspire the singing, praying, initiating church." Who is the church to whom we minister? It cannot be a narrow definition, but needs to be so much broader as we discover ways to serve and inspire.
On Friday morning, the participants gathered and became a part of a procession with the Quinto Encuentro Cross leading us. The Fifth Encuentro (encounter) will take place in Grapevine, TX in the summer of 2018; much has already been done to prepare for this important event, and so much more will take place. I took a little video during the procession.
WLP's Peter Kolar presented a concert for the NCCHM members on Thursday night, as well as a concert here in the Archdiocese of Chicago on Friday night at Saint Viator Parish on the Northwest side of Chicago.
Here is the interior of Saint Viator.
Peter was joined by several musicians who minister here in the Archdiocese of Chicago, including the amazingly talented Kate Williams, pictured here with Peter.
It was simply a delightful evening of music, prayer, and praise. When Peter played the first and third movements from Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, the audience just sat and watched and listened in amazement, me included! It was extraordinary. Thank you, Peter. Peter's latest album is Variations.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.