Intercultural Communication: The Mutual Invitation Process

Respectful Communication Guideline

R: take RESPONSIBILITY for what you say and feel, and speak with words others can hear and understand

E: use EMPATHETIC listening, not just words but also feelings being expressed, non verbal language including silence

S: be SENSITIVE to differences in communication styles

P: PONDER on what you hear and feel before you speak

EEXAMINE your own assumptions and perceptions


T: TRUST the process because we are not here to debate who is right or wrong but to experience true dialogue

The Invitation Method is a way to include all people in the conversation in a very respectful atmosphere. While each person is speaking, the others listen. No one may interrupt the speaker or jump in to speak without being invited by name. In this method, no one has more authority than anyone else each person is invited to share, and after sharing that person has the privilege to invite who will share next.

PURPOSE: To ensure that each person in the group is invited by name to share in an atmosphere of mutual respect.


1.         The leader clarifies what the group members are being invited to share.

2.         The leader gives guidelines about the use of time.

3.         The leader may share first or may invite another person by name to share.

4.         Who you invite does not need to be the person next to you.

5.         After the person has spoken, that person is given the privilege to invite another to share.

6.         If the person invited chooses not to share, the person may simply say “pass” and proceed to invite another to share. No explanation is needed or given for passing.

7.         The process will continue until everyone has been invited to speak.

8.         At that time, any person who passed will be invited again to share. Persons are still free to pass.

9.         The main activity of the group is to listen.

—Eric H. F. Law, The Wolf Shall Dwell with the Lamb: A Spirituality for Leadership in a Multicultural Community


Working with Groups in Intercultural Settings: A Cycle of Adaptation and Models of Multicultural Living

Many years ago, James Banks proposed that immigrants often go through a cycle of adaptation to their new culture. This cycle is helpful in understanding why immigrant communities will respond differently at different times. There are four stages in the cycle: immersion, withdrawal, negotiation, and institutionalization.


In the first stage, immigrants eagerly try to adapt to the new culture, especially if they have come voluntarily to the new country. Eventually, however, they run into obstacles: the difficulty and complexity of the task, unforeseen challenges, or rejection by the prevailing culture. Any of these will dampen their initial enthusiasm.


As a result of their loss of motivation for adapting to the new culture, immigrants will sometimes withdraw into their own culture, emphasizing their own language and customs over and against those of the prevailing culture. This is a time for regrouping and strengthening immigrants’ self-esteem.


Newly strengthened by the withdrawal, immigrants will then reenter the fray and try to negotiate with the prevailing culture to get some social space for aspects of their own culture, such as use of their own language, recognition of their customs and cultural artifacts, or celebration of their special feast days. By so doing, their competence face is acknowledged and recognized.


The stage of institutionalization is reached when the prevailing culture comes to understand and accept the cultural contribution of an immigrant group as part of the prevailing culture. We have seen this especially in the United States as specific types of ethnic food (e.g., pizza, tacos) have come to be seen as simply “American food.”

This cycle may repeat itself as immigrant cultures continue to find a place in the prevailing culture. This pattern may be particularly intense in the case of second generation adolescents who may demand recognition of certain practices, but by the time they have been implemented by adults, the practices are no longer of interest to the adolescents. Over the years of encounter between cultures, three models of living amid many cultures have developed. They might be designated as follows: assimilation, multi culturalism, and selective adaptation.


Assimilation assumes that the culture of immigrants will eventually dissolve and immigrants will gradually become indistinguishable from those of the prevailing culture. Language is usually the first aspect of immigrant culture to dissolve, followed by values and customs. Often, food is the only cultural component that remains. The image here is of the “melting pot.” (The term came from a 1905 Broadway play of the same name, written by a Russian immigrant named Israel Zangwill.) The concept of a cultural “melting pot” was widely held in the United States until the 1970s. While it does describe what frequently (but not always) happens among immigrant groups, it failed to show respect for cultures. Assimilation is a view from the prevailing culture that does not take into account the experiences and feelings of immigrants about their own cultures.


This concept first appeared in the 1970s, and it was seen as a response to the weaknesses of assimilation. Multi culturalism stressed the right of people to maintain their distinctive cultures. Rather than a “melting pot,” the image was one of a “salad bowl” in which the ingredients maintain their integrity while mutually contributing to the flavor of the whole.

The model of multiculturalism remained in favor until the late 1990s and is still used by many people today. However, it lost appeal in some circles for two reasons. First, it misreads what often happens to minor city cultures in a new setting. It is difficult to maintain the complete integrity of a minority culture within a powerful prevailing culture, and there is some inevitable erosion. Thus, multiculturalism ignores the dynamics of power at work in such settings.

Second, a policy of maintaining cultures in their total integrity can lead to a lack of integration or engagement with the prevailing culture that adversely affects the economic and even social wellbeing of a minority culture. This is not as evident in the United States as it is in many European countries, where a laissez faire mentality and a rather generous welfare system allow immigrants to remain disengaged from the larger culture, even into the third generation.

Occasionally, emerging leaders from particular groups are deprived of their own time and place to develop. Special development opportunities can occur in the name of multiculturalism, but they may be eliminated for economic reasons when departments are downsized and programs are merged. Sometimes this is inevitable, but the possible diminishment of emerging cultural groups and leaders needs to be considered and, if possible, avoided.

Selective Adaptation

A new model is arising in response to the weaknesses of the concept of multiculturalism. It does not yet have an accepted name, but it might be called “selective adaptation.” This model tries to balance the need for cultural integrity and respect of immigrant cultures with the inevitable loss of elements in those cultures to the prevailing culture and the economic and social necessity of engagement with the prevailing culture. The precise method of creating the balance still needs to be resolved and may vary from community to community. What should be enacted as a general social policy and what the Church should try to do in its ministry do not always exactly coincide. Because ministry is directed to the whole human person, it takes into account more than economic necessities. At the same time, culture should not be treated as a museum piece or an object of nostalgia.


Developing Intercultural Sensitivity

This presentation aims at helping people track the growth of intercultural sensitivity in their pastoral settings. It largely follows the model developed by Milton Bennett in his essay titled “Toward Ethnorelativism: A Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensibility.” His model proposes a progressing growth in intercultural sensitivity from high levels of prejudice to healthy interaction.

People unaware or unconnected to other cultures around them are often ethnocentric—that is, centered on their own culture as the only valid way to live in the world. To live any other way is deviant or substandard. This is an attitude found among those who are part of a prevailing culture that can afford to ignore other cultures around them. People growing up in a minority culture, on the other hand, are keenly aware of powerful “others” and learn from childhood how to survive in such situations. However, ethnocentrism can also be found among minority cultures and groups.

Bennett’s model is intended especially for prevailing culture individuals wanting to overcome ethnocentrism and develop greater intercultural sensitivity. It is especially useful in ministry settings for working with people who are part of the prevailing culture of the parish or school and feel they are being “invaded” by others. In addition, it can be helpful for all ministry staff members who are trying to understand such reactions and help move people along to greater empathy for others.

Bennett charts six stages on the path from ethnocentrism to what he calls “ethnorelativism.”

(Note: “Ethnorelativism” is probably not the best word to use in ministry settings because “relativism” connotes indifference. A good substitute would be “healthy interaction” or even “communion.”) Bennett’s six stages to developing intercultural sensitivity are denial, defense, minimization, acceptance, adaptation, and integration.

Stage 1: Denial

Denial is a refusal to deal with the issue. It can be dealt with by trying to isolate the other culture away from ourselves (by not talking about it) or to contain it by seemingly benign stereotypes (such as treating the others as helpless children who cannot be mixed with the “adults”). Sometimes denial takes the form of maintaining a strict separation between ourselves and the other group. An example of this was the practice of setting up “chapels” for African Americans in white parishes.

Stage 2: Defense

When the “others” cannot be kept at arm’s length any longer, a defensive attitude may set in. Because this attitude sees the other group as threatening, we have to take steps to defend ourselves. We then demonize members of the other group (see above) or denigrate them by using negative stereotypes. At the same time, as we demonize or denigrate, we emphasize our own superiority.

Stage 3: Minimization

This is an attempt to minimalize the difference between ourselves and the “others.” While such minimization may be well intended and less adversarial than the first two stages, it is still a tactic to avoid engagement with the “others.” Sometimes it does this by trivializing differences, acting as if the differences do not matter when in fact they do determine behavior. It may start from the assumption that culture is just an overlay on biology. Because all peoples share a common biology, the cultural differences are peripheral. Bennett calls this “physical universalism.” At other times, a kind of “transcendent universalism” (Bennett’s phrase) will be invoked. In church circles, as differences are being addressed, it is not uncommon to hear, “But we are all brothers and sisters in Christ!” This is indeed true, but in this particular setting, it is often a rhetorical stratagem to stop conversation about dealing with differences.

Stage 4: Acceptance

This marks the turning point in the process. In this stage, we move from defending ourselves from the “invading others” to finding ways of living and working together. At this point, difference begins to be valued more positively. We begin to realize that difference is irreducible and can even be helpful.

This step involves learning enough about others to come to respect their behavioral differences and realize that although their ways of acting and interacting are different, they have their own integrity. (The parameters presented in the second module of this workbook can be helpful here.) Also, behind those behavioral differences may be value differences that configure the world differently from our own. For example, what constitutes “family” is different in individualist and collectivist societies.

Stage 5: Adaptation

The next step after cognitively accepting difference is to take action. This involves adapting our own attitudes and behavior to accommodate the “others.” Two adaptations are important here.

The first is empathy, or the capacity to feel what others feel and to see in some measure how they see the world. A capacity to experience empathy lays the groundwork for living and working together. Empathy is a little different from sympathy, which is the ability to show feelings of togetherness or solidarity toward others but always on our own terms.

The second is pluralism, or acknowledging that there are different and legitimate ways of living in the world. (In the context of a community of faith, this means recognizing that there are diverse and legitimate ways of living and even expressing such faith.)

Stage 6: Integration

At this stage, people become genuinely multicultural persons. We appropriate elements of the culture of the other group and make them our own, not in a patronizing, domineering, or colonizing way but by appreciating that their ways enrich our own culture or give better expression to our values. Their ways may address issues that our own culture does not do as well. Such integration makes interacting and appropriating indispensable for a fuller sense of life.

Bennett suggests that two outcomes are evident at this stage. The first is a capacity to evaluate behavior in light of its context, knowing that there is more than one perspective on the matter. He calls this “contextual evaluation.”

The second demonstrates the capacity to stand outside a culture while having appropriate and effective interaction with it. He calls this “constructive marginality” because we are indeed in the margins of the culture, though we are not necessarily marginalized. We are able to engage the culture in appropriate and effective ways. While reaching this sixth stage marks a certain completion of a journey from ethnocentrism to being able to work with other cultures well, it does not mark the end of learning about other cultures. This model shows the stages through which people go in becoming genuinely multicultural persons. As such, it provides a way of mapping a parish’s or a community’s capacity to interact with other cultures, and it can thus help ministers and staff move along to greater intercultural sensitivity.


Glossary of Terms

ACCULTURATION: The changes that take place as a result of continuous firsthand contact between individuals of different cultures; usually refers to the experiences of adults.

ASSIMILATION: The process whereby an individual or group is absorbed into the social structures and cultural life of another person, group, or society.

COMMUNICATION STYLE: A set of culturally learned characteristics associated with both language and learning style, involving such aspects of communication as formal versus informal, emotional versus subdued, direct versus indirect, objective versus subjective, and responses to guilt and accusation.

CROSS CULTURAL: The various forms of encounter and exchange between disparate cultural groups, often in a manner that reflects mutual respect.

CULTURAL GENERALIZATION: The tendency to assume that a majority of people in a particular cultural group hold certain values and beliefs and engage in certain patterns of behavior.  (A generalization is most appropriately based on research, held lightly as a hypothesis, and tested carefully by non-judgmentally observing the individual from another culture.)

CULTURAL TEREOTYPE:   The   application   of a generalization to every person in a cultural group or generalizing from only a few people in a group. (Stereo  types are frequently based on limited experience, unreliable sources, hearsay, or media reporting. It is the rigid adherence to simplified perceptions of others, which is sometimes called “hardening of the categories.”)

CULTURE: The learned and shared values, beliefs, and behaviors of a group of interacting people.

CULTURE SPECIFIC APPROACHES: Cross cultural training approaches designed to prepare individuals to live and work with people of a particular culture or group.

DEMOGRAPHICS: Vital statistics regarding age, gender, ethnicity, and so forth that characterize human populations. (Often generated from census data, demographics can be used to project future trends and to assist educators in meeting the needs of minority groups.)

DISCRIMINATION: A prejudiced or prejudicial outlook, action, or treatment (e.g., racial discrimination).

DIVERSITY (INCLUDING BOTH DOMESTIC AND GLOBAL DIVERSITY): Diversity is defined as difference in the manner of human social interaction. It is rooted in the anthropological reality of distinct familial and communal traditions operative within local communities, peoples, and nations. These differences are transmitted over time within a community, and manifest themselves in distinct cultural traditions by which human communities transmit values, behaviors and priorities. These differences are deeply affected by religious traditions within a culture, and touch upon how diverse communities organize and understand the most basic  elements  of human existence, including attitudes towards life and death, the raising of children, and the respect due to others in the community. Cultural distinctiveness is profoundly formative of individuals, and is a constituent element of human identity.

ENCULTURATION: The sociological process of raising a child to be a member of a particular culture or cultural group (e.g., immigrant cultures adapting to the U.S. experience). (Enculturation is not to be confused with inculturation, which is a theological and religious process.)

ETHNIC GROUP: Groups that share a common heritage and reflect identification with some collective or reference group, often in a common homeland. (Identification with an ethnic group is reflected in a sense of peoplehood, or the feeling that a person’s own destiny is somehow linked with others who share this same ethnic background.)

ETHNIC IDENTITY: A sense of belonging and identification with one’s ancestral ethnic group.

ETHNOCENTRISM: The tendency that people have to evaluate others from their own cultural reference.

EVANGELIZATION: Aimed at both the interior change of individuals and the external change of societies, the Church’s evangelizing activity consists of several essential elements: proclaiming, preaching and bearing witness to Christ; teaching Christ; and celebrating Christ’s sacraments.

The four pillars or basic tasks of evangelization are

(1) fostering a personal encounter with Christ;

(2) inculturation or the transformation of cultures in light of Christian revelation;

(3) liberation or the transformation of the social, economic, and political order by gospel values; and

(4) ecumenical and interreligious dialogue in pursuit of unity among all peoples.

GENERALIZATION: An assumption that a majority of people in a particular cultural group tend to hold certain values and beliefs and engage in certain patterns of behavior. (This assumption can be supported by research and can be applied broadly to a large percentage of a given population or group.)

GLOBALIZATION: The process by  which  nations  of the world become connected and interdependent through ties created by electronic communication, rapid means of travel, and interlocking economies.

IMMIGRANTS: People who voluntarily move to a country of which they are not natives with the purpose of taking up permanent residence.

INCARNATION: A central theological mystery and doctrine of Christianity that refers to the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Son of God, becoming a human being in Jesus of Nazareth, a Galilean Jew, while also remaining God. St. John’s Gospel refers to the Incarnation as the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us (see Jn 1:15). This doctrine underlies the Catholic Church’s identity and mission, which is to preach the Word of God and thus transform individuals, societies, and cultures in the image of Christ himself. This mystery also provides an example of unity in diversity to the extreme.

INCLUSION: The belief in and practice of creating heterogeneous groups and communities in classrooms, churches, and associations (e.g., the practice of teaching students with disabilities in regular classrooms); the opposite of exclusion. (Inclusion holds a certain affinity with the spirit of catholicity. At times, however, there may be quite legitimate reasons to exclude.)

INCULTURATION: A theological term for the engagement of Sacred Scripture and Church Tradition, especially the Gospel, in which culture is understood as a people’s way of thinking, feeling, acting, and being; also called “evangelization of cultures.” This process consists mainly of the transformation of a people’s identity and deepest motivations and desires, especially their sacred stories, symbols, and rituals, through dialogue and the power of grace that accompanies the Christian proclamation. This process may pertain to discrete cultures (e.g., Mexican, United States, or Filipino) as well as to the overarching global cultures of modernity or postmodernity.

INDIGENOUS PEOPLE: People living in an area generally since prehistoric (or pre European contact) times; related terms include aboriginal people (particularly in Australia) and first nation people (particularly in Canada)

INTEGRATION: The process by which different groups or individuals are brought into a relationship characterized by mutuality and inclusiveness in such a manner as to create real unity in diversity without destroying the particularity and distinctiveness of each member

INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION:  The study of theories and practices related to face to face interaction between people whose cultures are significantly different from one another

INTERCULTURAL COMPETENCE: A set of cognitive (mindset), affective (heartset), and behavioral (skillset) skills and characteristics that support effective and appropriate interaction in various cultural contexts.

MARGINALIZATION: The practice of excluding a social group from the mainstream of the society, placing that group legally or socially on the “margins” of the society.

MELTING POT: An image used to describe the process by which distinct cultures are totally assimilated into a new society and cease being what they were.

MINORITY GROUP: A social group that occupies a subordinate position in a society, often experiences discrimination, and may be separated by physical or cultural traits that are disapproved of by the dominant group.

MULTICULTURALISM: The re elaboration of relationships within institutions or organizations as a result of the encounter of diverse cultures within them for the purpose of achieving integration rather than assimilation; a dynamic reality that occurs increasingly in the context of migration and the movement of people. (For the Catholic Church, multiculturalism has always been a fundamental feature of its catholicity and mission to preach the Gospel to all cultures and draw them into a communion in difference or diversity. Multiculturalism, however, has been critiqued for abetting a “one size fits all mentality” in pastoral ministry by creating a situation in which all groups are put into the same basket. This can have a negative effect on diverse communities by depriving them of the exercise of subsidiarity and of opportunities to form their own leaders and develop appropriate pastoral and educational models, resources, and initiatives.)

NARRATIVE: A story that provides a cogent meaning for grasping and transcending one’s reality by using imagination and insight to engage one’s vision of the world and motivation for living; considered an element constitutive of cultures.

NEWEVANGELIZATION: Re proposing an encounter with Jesus Christ to people and cultures who have already been exposed to Christ and his message but have distanced themselves from them and participation in the life of the Church under the influence of secular society, particularly in Europe and North America. It also involves prayerfully listening to the contemporary world and proclaiming the Good News with renewed ardor, expressions, and methods that are mindful of the opportunities afforded by mass and social media as well as new technology.

PASTORAL DE CONJUNTO: Planned and collaborative pastoral activity that reflects a serious commitment to inclusivity, communion, and participation while paying attention to the ministerial and ecclesial reality and context. The concept for such activity originated in the thought of the episcopal conferences of Latin America, especially the documents of Medellín and Puebla. It was adopted in the United States by Hispanic ministry through Encuentro processes and in documents such as the Catholic bishops of the United States’ National Pastoral Plan for Hispanic Ministry.

PEOPLE OF COLOR: A phrase that refers to nonwhite minority group members, such as African Americans, Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Native Americans, but that also reflects recent demographic realities of the United States; often preferred over the phrase “ethnic minority” because these groups are, in many schools and communities, the majority rather than the minority.

PREJUDICE: Uninformed judgments about others that are often unconscious, harsh, or discriminatory and that involve rejection.

PREVAILING CULTURE: The culture of the social or political group that holds the most power and influence in a society; sometimes called the dominant culture.

PROJECTION: The attribution of one’s own ideas, feelings, or attitudes to other people or to objects, especially the externalization of blame, guilt, or responsibility as a defense against anxiety.

RACE: In a biological sense, the clustering of inherited physical characteristics that favor adaptation to a particular ecological area.  (Race is culturally defined in that different societies emphasize different sets of physical characteristics when referring to the concept of race. Thus, race is an important constructed, social characteristic not because of its biology but because of its cultural meaning in any given group or society.)

RACIAL IDENTITY: One’s sense of belonging and identification with a racial group; may also refer to the categorization of an individual in terms of a racial group by society or other social groups.

RACIAL PROFILING: The practice of constructing a set of characteristics or behaviors based on race and then using that set of racially oriented characteristics to decide whether an individual might be guilty of some crime and therefore worthy of investigation or arrest.

RACISM: A social dysfunction characterized by an inability to see others as brothers and sisters, members of the same human family, because of the color of their skin or some other physical characteristic. (Significantly, racism is a social construct with no foundation in biology or any other science because the human family is so mixed genetically that there are no “pure” races.)

RITUAL: A repeatable, often customary action with deep meaning and significance by which persons express and reinforce relationships among themselves or with God; considered a constitutive element of culture.

SHARED PARISH: A parish in which distinctive language or cultural groups share a common parish plant. (The term stands in contrast to “multicultural parish,” which may raise ideological expectations or reflect a certain understanding as to how the diverse groups there interact or are supposed to interact. The term “shared parish” is neutral and raises fewer expectations.)

SECULARISM: A way of thinking, an ideology, that tends to ignore or reject values and concerns that spring from religious faith. It is a tendency to remove religious matters of ultimate concern from any consideration in the public square and relegate them to the private sphere. Religions thus lose social relevance.

SECULARIZATION: A social process whereby personal and institutional religious values and concerns are progressively relegated to the private sphere leading to a decline in the influence of faith and religious values on society in the public square.

SOCIAL CLASS: The categorization of individuals in a stratified social system based on characteristics that are often related to (but may not be limited to) child rearing practices, beliefs, values, economic status, prestige and influence, and general life chances.

STEREOTYPES: Unsubstantiated beliefs about the personal attributes of the members of a group based on inaccurate generalizations that are used to describe all members of the group and that thus ignore individual differences.

SYMBOL: A constitutive element of culture that Gerald.

A. Arbuckle defines as “emotionally experienced meaning” (Culture, Inculturation, and Theologians, Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2010)—that is, a sign expressing some reality in a graphic, emotionally moving, and motivating way (e.g., the U.S. flag, the Cross of Christ, the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, or the Statue of Liberty).

THEOLOGICAL ANTHROPOLOGY: The relationship between human beings and God; the study of the meaning of human beings created in God’s image and thus enjoying a special relationship with the divine as well as among themselves insofar as all mankind has but one common Creator, Redeemer, and Liberator: Jesus Christ.

WHITE PRIVILEGE: The tendency of societies to conceptualize matters pertaining to race in terms of the perceptions and interests of the prevailing or dominant community (in the United States, of whites). White privilege is different from prejudice or racism in that it merely gives a special place, or privilege, to the concerns of one group. The features and causes of negative social, economic, or political circumstances faced by nonwhite people in U.S. society are largely ignored or denied. White privilege is a factor in creating what may be called society’s tendency toward “benign neglect.” However, this tendency is not exclusive to whites. Any group, if it attains a sustained level of hegemony, may fall prey to this tendency. For instance, in Mexico, which is a largely mestizo (mixed indigenous and Spanish heritage) nation, one might speak of a “mestizo privilege” that overlooks the realities faced by the indigenous or black people of Mexico.


Sample Prayers and Liturgical Aids


Building Intercultural Competence for Ministers was designed to begin and end with prayer. The prayers were composed to include the six cultural and racial families: Native Americans; African Americans; Hispanics; Europeans; Asian Pacific Islanders; and migrants, refugees, and travelers. These prayers include thanksgiving, petition, Scripture reading, reflection, and praise.

Opening Prayers


Offering of Symbols of Hope and Suffering

•           In a meditative spirit, the witnesses from the different families, chosen two to three weeks before the training, are called upon to share their hopes and sufferings by bringing forward the different symbols that represent the hope and suffering of their respective cultural and ethnic communities in their daily lives.

•           The witnesses offer the symbols at the altar as gifts that the families bring to the community of faith.

•           They offer prayers to God so that through his Word, the people may be nourished and bear fruit.

•           They offer prayers so that the community may remain hopeful in truth, justice, mutual love, and respect for one another.

Closing Prayer/Sending Forth Prayer

The purpose of the closing prayer is to lift the participants to God, asking God to bless them and their work. Each of the participants is prayed over and presented with a lighted candle. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, they are commissioned to carry the Gospel of peace and love to all peoples of all nations and cultures. “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19). They must go forth to be leaven to themselves and others wishing to grow in unity and to become interculturally competent ministers.

Suggested Materials/Holy Objects

•           Holy water

•           Lighted candles

•           Cross

•           Holy Bible

Examples of Symbols of Hope and Suffering


Symbol of Hope: Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe is significant to Hispanic culture because it sends a message that the world of the indigenous people of the Americas is not over. This message is conveyed by the words of Our Lady and by her appearance as a young Native American woman. It sends a message that they are also children of the true God and that they will be taken care of. Further, Our Lady of Guadalupe chose Juan Diego, a Native American, to request that a temple be built on her behalf on the hill of Tepeyac so that the indigenous people could be heard, be consoled, and made to feel at home in the Church. With this symbol and shrine came the first massive evangelization movement of the Americas and a message of liberation, harmony, and hope that is still important to Hispanic Catholics today.

Symbol of Suffering: Cristo Mojado

This image, the “wet back” Christ, is significant to Hispanic culture because it represents the difficult journey that thousands of Hispanics and other undocumented immigrants endure when attempting to enter the United States every year. This image calls us to be mindful of the hundreds of people who die each year trying to cross the border between the United States and Mexico. The image is born of a belief that people of the faith have to respond to the plight of our brothers and sisters who are coming to our country to work and yet are often treated like criminals.

African American

Symbol of Hope: Daniel Rudd’s picture

Daniel Rudd has become a symbol of hope for African American Catholics. He was a passionate advocate for the Catholic Church, becoming an advocate for justice and freedom for African Americans. He gave voice to this cause through the development of the National Black Catholic Congress. There were five Congresses in the 1800s, and there have been five more Congresses since. The XI Congress will be held in the summer of 2012.

 Symbol of Suffering: Chains or slave ship; a book of slave narratives

It has been 150 years since Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, yet racism is still a challenge. Specific concerns are poverty, housing, health care, prison systems, inclusion, and inclusive ministry.

European American

Symbol of Hope: Celtic Cross

Irish Catholics believe that the Celtic Cross became an emblem of the Celtic Christian Church when the Celts converted from paganism to Christianity. They believe that the circle on the cross is a symbol of eternity that emphasizes the endlessness of God's love. The appearance of the circle has also been explained by the Irish Catholics as the mystery of the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ.

Symbol of Suffering: Letters

The letters represent the prejudice that was expressed against Irish immigrants simply in response to the spelling of their last names. One Irish immigrant reportedly could not find a job after a period of rejection. Finally, someone made the comment to him that if he learned to spell his name “right,” he might find a job. He accordingly changed the spelling of his name to reflect a Scottish spelling rather than an Irish one, and he found a job shortly after.

Asian and Pacific Islander

Symbol of Hope: Bamboo plant

For several Asian cultures, the bamboo plant, which has a long life, symbolizes longevity. Bamboo also has positive spiritual significance. There are many merits of bamboo according to its characteristics. Its deep roots denote resoluteness, and its straight, long stems represent pliability and adaptability when strong winds blow. The latter attribute plays a positive role in encouraging people to hold on when facing tough situations.

Symbol of Suffering: Internment camps for Japanese Americans

The internment camps for Japanese Americans during World War II and the “yellow peril” discrimination against the Chinese and other Asians are symbols of social actions and attitudes that do not permit full integration. Such actions and attitudes fail to recognize the many contributions of Asian and Pacific Islanders to American society and to the Church.

Native American

Symbol of Hope: St. Kateri Tekakwitha

St. Kateri Tekakwitha, is a symbol of hope for Native American Catholics because she is the first and only Native American in the United States and Canada to be canonized a saint by the Roman Catholic Church. She is a hero and role model for all Roman Catholics because she lived a life of great sanctity. She also exhibited great courage in the face of the extreme opposition and persecution that she experienced as she boldly strove to follow our Lord, Jesus.

Symbol of Suffering: Faceless Native American infant doll

The faceless Native American infant doll calls to mind the unjust activities of the U.S. government and other institutions to assimilate North American Indians into the mainstream through the various efforts they under took to wipe out their identities and cultures. One of the most heinous and devastating programs was the removal of Native American children from their families and communities and forced placement in residential boarding schools. This was done with total disregard for their basic, God given dignity and freedom.

Migrant, Refugee, and Traveler

Symbol of Hope: SKU (Unity Symbol)

The unities are treasured throughout Africa as a symbol of the African struggle for freedom and as a symbol of family and the unity of the people. Each of the unities teaches simple lessons of love, life, and harmony. Each of the unities shows the harmony of people within a community.

Symbol of Suffering: Ship

Amidst the strong wind and waves that batter the ship, which symbolize our earthly journey, Christ—our Way and our Light—leads us safely toward the eternal homeland.