The largest growing population of Catholics in the United States is Hispanic, yet the number of U.S.-born Hispanic lay ministers, women and men religious, seminarians, priests and deacons serving in Catholic faith communities is relatively small. Lilly Endowment Inc. has made a $7.9 million grant to the University of Notre Dame, which will partner with Boston College in leading Haciendo Caminos. The collaborative initiative will bring together 16 other Catholic institutions to form at least 100 of the next generation of Hispanic Catholic pastoral leaders in the United States.
Haciendo Caminos’ goals are to reduce barriers and increase support for graduate theological education for U.S.-born Hispanic Catholics; increase knowledge of, and interest in, ministerial professions among this population; and create a consortium of Catholic higher education institutions forming pastoral leaders at the graduate level in collaboration with local ecclesial organizations.
“The evangelizing outreach of young leaders to their peers is our most effective means as a Church to inspire healing and faith among our younger sisters and brothers today,” said Timothy Matovina, professor and chair of the Department of Theology at Notre Dame and co-lead on this project. “If we desire a more vibrant and youthful Church, we need to personally invite young people to leadership and prioritize our collective support for them in their formation. That is why I am so grateful to Lilly Endowment and our partners in the Haciendo Caminos project. The present and future of Catholicism in this country will largely depend on how we engage and support young Latinas and Latinos in their faith journeys. Their leadership is a gift to all of us.”
Other partner institutions engaged in Haciendo Caminos are Aquinas Institute of Theology, Barry University, Catholic Theological Union, Catholic University of America, Fordham University, Franciscan School of Theology (San Diego), Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University, Loyola Marymount University, Loyola University Chicago, Loyola University New Orleans, Mexican American Catholic College, Mount St. Mary’s University, Oblate School of Theology, Santa Clara University, St. John’s Seminary (Camarillo, California) and University of the Incarnate Word.
As co-lead on the project, Hosffman Ospino, associate professor of Hispanic ministry and religious education and chair of the Department of Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, added, “We unite efforts today to work with 16 other Catholic institutions and form a groundbreaking partnership that has the potential to redefine how we think about theological and ministerial formation of Hispanic Catholic leaders. This is a win-win for everyone.”
Notre Dame will oversee the management of the Haciendo Caminos grant, which is being funded through the third and final phase of Lilly Endowment’s Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative. The initiative is designed to help theological schools across the United States and Canada as they prioritize and respond to the most pressing challenges they face in preparing pastoral leaders for Christian congregations both now and into the future.
The grant to Notre Dame is one of 16 Lilly Endowment made in the third phase of the Pathways initiative, which is supporting large-scale, highly collaborative programs.
“Theological schools play an essential role in ensuring that Christian congregations have a steady stream of well-prepared leaders to guide their ministries,” said Christopher L. Coble, the endowment’s vice president for religion. “Many theological schools believe that their paths to the future depend on their abilities to form strategic partnerships with other schools and church agencies. These grants will help seminaries develop innovative and collaborative approaches to theological education that we believe will strengthen their efforts to prepare and support excellent leaders for Christian communities into the future.”
Lilly Endowment launched the Pathways initiative in January 2021 because of its longstanding interest in supporting efforts to enhance and sustain the vitality of Christian congregations by strengthening the leadership capacities of pastors and congregational lay leaders.
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