One Church Many Cultures The Good News of Cultural Diversity Newsletter Spring/Summer 2021
Cultural Diversity Priorities to Focus on Young People, Vocations, Strengthening Families and Education
By: Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez, Archbishop of Philadelphia, Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Peace be with you! The Risen Lord is the source of all hope and the Holy Spirit strengthens us with his gifts to be faithful missionary disciples who take seriously the command to “Go and make disciples of all nations”. Filled with Easter joy and Pentecost spirit, I am excited to share with you the Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church’s priorities for the next four years. In November 2020, the USCCB General Assembly approved its Strategic Plan 2021-2024. At that same virtual meeting, the bishops also elected Most Rev. Arturo Cepeda, Auxiliary Bishop of Detroit, as chairman-elect for Committee on Cultural Diversity. He will be taking the reins of the Committee at the end of the November 2021 General Assembly.
For the next few years, the Committee on Cultural Diversity decided to put a strong emphasis on several main areas: vocations, young people, families, Catholic education and intercultural leadership. To promote vocational discernment to the priesthood and consecrated life among culturally diverse communities the committee will work closely with the USCCB Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, as well as diocesan vocations directors, seminaries and religious houses of formation to evaluate current efforts and strategies for the identification, invitation and retention of diverse candidates. In addition, the CDC Committee would like to enlist the help of families and friends in promoting prayer for vocations.
To this end, we are happy to offer the beautiful Family Prayer for Vocations to the Priesthood and Religious Life composed by one of our own, Bishop Joseph Perry of Chicago, chairman of the Subcommittee on African American Affairs. Whether you use this resource or others available to you, I invite all Catholic families, apostolic movements and associations of the faithful to “conspire” with us, your bishops, to pray for vocations from the many different cultural and ethnic communities, so that our future priests, deacons, religious sisters and brothers, and consecrated lay people reflect the magnificent diversity of the Church and enrich our parishes, communities and ministries with their gifts.
Another big priority will continue to be accompanying youth and young adults. The Journeying Together process continues to bring together young people and ministers of diverse cultural and socioeconomic background. Over the next year or so we hope to delve deeper into some of the common and urgent topics that have emerged during our intercultural dialogues, as well as encouraging young adults and ministry leaders to “take home the conversation”.
At the national level, we are working on producing the proceedings from the process. Hopefully they will lead us to take action and make commitments to one another, so that the joy of the Gospel and the message of hope in the Holy Father’s exhortation, Christus Vivit, reaches young people wherever they are, no matter their background or circumstance. We will also invest some time and effort on finding ways to support and improve the Catholic education of diverse populations, especially those currently underserved by our schools and parishes.
There is a desire to strengthen marriage and family life in the different ethnic and cultural communities under the committee’s mandate. The CDC Committee will see to the intercultural implementation of the upcoming USCCB Pastoral Plan/Vision for Marriage and Family and each of the five Cultural Diversity subcommittees have planned objectives and activities designed to strengthen marriage and family among their respective populations.
Of course, the committee on Cultural Diversity will continue to promote intercultural competence in ministry by updating its curriculum and producing additional resources, as well as seeking ways to also support ordained and lay ministers serving (or discerning service to) specific ethnic and cultural groups, and communities with special needs such as migrants, refugees, people on the move, as well as people with disabilities.
The committee is also committed to support and accompany the various communities through the numerous congresses and gatherings, whether virtual or in-person, that convene and strengthen the various communities. Following the theme for the 2021-2024 USCCB Strategic Plan, Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ: Our Source of Healing and Hope, this Committee is also fully involved in the planning of a Eucharistic revival process that hopes to reconnect the faithful with the Eucharist and to their baptismal call.
We have our work cut out for us! But the Lord goes before us. Please pray for your bishops and help us accomplish these tasks through prayer, participation and sponsorship of activities. We cannot do it without your help! May the Lord reward all your good deeds abundantly!