Historical Memory of Hispanic Ministry

Cornerstone of Encuentro & Mission:

Novo Millennio Ineunte

The titles chosen for Encuentro & Mission are inspired by John Paul II’s pastoral letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, in which the Holy Father echoes Jesus’ invitation to the apostles to “put out into the deep” for a catch – “Duc in altum.” These words ring out for us today, inviting us to remember the past of Hispanic ministry with gratitude, to live the present challenges and opportunities with enthusiasm, and to look forward to the future of Hispanic ministry with confidence. (E&M #2)

Ecclesial Vision of Hispanic Ministry

Hispanic Catholics have developed a vision of ministry inspired by the social and ecclesiological context of the Second Vatican Council in the United States and in Latin America. This vision is articulated in the Pastoral Plan as a model of Church that seeks to strengthen communion and participation with a strong emphasis on evangelization, social justice, and the integral education of the faithful. (E&M #12)

Remembering the Past with Gratitude: Historical Memory
This historic development is evidenced in its gestation/birth process:
  • A National Office is established in San Antonio, Texas (1945)

  • Pastoral efforts are undertaken in heavily Hispanic populated areas, particularly among migrant workers

  • The National Office for the Spanish-Speaking moves to Washington, D.C. (1968)

  • Most Rev. Patrick F. Flores becomes first Hispanic bishop in the U.S. (1970)

Remembering the Past with Gratitude: Historical Memory


  • I Encuentro Nacional Hispano de Pastoral is convoked by the U.S. bishops – infancy stage of Hispanic ministry

  • Hispanic Catholics come out of anonymity

  • Bishops publish first document on Hispanic ministry with conclusions of the I Encuentro Nacional

  • Pastoral priorities are identified


  • Promote a wider participation of Hispanic Catholics in the life and mission of the Church

  • Include Hispanics in leadership positions and in decision-making processes

  • Establish specific structures to serve Hispanics


  • Pastoral efforts multiply and expand

  • 14 Hispanic bishops named and the number of diocesan offices for Hispanic ministry multiplies

  • Regional offices for Hispanic ministry are established


  • Convocation of II Encuentro Nacional Hispano de Pastoral

  • Focuses on common identity of Hispanic Catholics in U.S.: Faith, Culture and Language

  • Marks the adolescence stage of ministerial development

  • Proposes church model: more communitarian, evangelizing and missionary to effectively serve Hispanic Catholics


The major areas that need an urgent response are identified as:
  • Evangelization
  • Ministerial Participation
  • Human Rights
  • Integral Education
  • Political Responsibility
  • Unity in Pluralism
  • The three priorities of the I Encuentro are reaffirmed


  • Leadership in Hispanic ministry is strengthened by a common vision and process

  • National priorities are implemented at the local level

  • Parish & diocesan structures for Hispanic ministry are developed and strengthened


  • U.S. Bishops issue the Pastoral Letter The Hispanic Presence: Challenge and Commitment
  • Affirms that Hispanic people are a blessing from God to the Church and to the nation

  • Recognizes past efforts, identifies urgent needs and their pastoral implications

  • Makes the commitment to redouble their pastoral efforts and call for a III Encuentro Nacional

The Hispanic Presence: Challenge & Commitment

Faith and life are inseparable for Hispanics:
  • Profound respect for the dignity of each person

  • Deep and reverential love for family life

  • Marvelous sense of community and “fiesta”

  • Loving appreciation for God’s gift of life

  • Authentic and consistent devotion to Mary (HPCC #3)


  • With the III Encuentro Nacional and the National Pastoral Plan, Hispanic ministry reaches its youth stage

  • Hispanic ministry is implemented at the local level in the context of an ongoing national pastoral process

  • Integration versus assimilation becomes a fundamental pastoral value in the life, structure, and mission of Hispanic ministry and its relationship with the broader church

  • The number of Hispanic bishops reaches 22

Integration vs. Assimilation

Integration is not to be confused with assimilation. Through the policy of assimilation, new immigrants are forced to give up their language, culture, values, and traditions… By integration we mean that our Hispanic people are to be welcomed to our church institutions at all levels. They are to be served in their language when possible, and their cultural values and religious traditions are to be respected. Beyond that, we must work toward mutual enrichment through interaction among all our cultures. (NPPHM #4)


Grassroots consultation process identifies pastoral priorities:
  • Evangelization
  • Integral Education
  • Social Justice
  • Youth and Young Adults
  • Leadership Formation
A clear vision and strategy for Hispanic ministry is developed and articulated under a general objective, specific dimensions, and concrete pastoral actions


  • National Pastoral Plan for Hispanic Ministry is unanimously approved (1987)

  • Bishops’ Committee on Hispanic Affairs is established as a permanent committee of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (1987)

  • National Pastoral Plan is implemented in dioceses throughout the United States and there is a significant growth among diocesan offices for Hispanic ministry and parishes offering services in Spanish

  • Hispanic Catholic national organizations continue to multiply

  • Convocation ’95 is celebrated to observe the 50th anniversary of the establishment of a National Office (1945)

  • Documents on Hispanic ministry are published:
    Leaven for the Kingdom of God (1990);
    Communion and Mission (1995)
    The Hispanic Presence in the New Evangelization in the United States
    Reconciled Through Christ

National Catholic Hispanic Organizations

  • National Association of Hispanic Priests (ANSH, 1989)

  • National Catholic Council for Hispanic Ministry (NCCHM, 1990)

  • National Catholic Association of Diocesan Directors for Hispanic Ministry (NCADDHM, 1991)

  • National Catholic Network de Pastoral Juvenil Hispana (La Red, 1996)

  • Already established national organizations such as the National Organization of Catechists for Hispanics (NOCH) were strengthened


  • John Paul II convokes the Synod for America

  • U.S. bishops approve the convoking of a fourth national encuentro for Hispanic ministry

  • The Bishops’ Committee on Hispanic Affairs opens the encuentro process to the whole Church (1998)

  • The Committee adopts the concept of Encuentro 2000 and begins the development of a parish guide (1998)

  • A parish catechetical guide is developed and titled Many Faces in God’s House: A Catholic Vision for the Third Millennium
  • The Bishops’ Committee choose the theme for Encuentro 2000: Many Faces in God’s House (1999)
  • The parish catechetical guide Many Faces in God’s House: A Catholic Vision for the Third Millennium is published and promoted (1999)

  • The Committee on Hispanic Affairs commissions and publishes a study on Hispanic ministry under the name Hispanic Ministry at the Turn of the New Millennium (1999)


  • Encuentro 2000 national event marks the mature stage in the development of Hispanic ministry and sets a new cycle of ecclesial and ministerial growth

  • To date, 31 bishops have been named and Hispanic ministry has been established as an integral part of the life and mission of the Church

  • Hispanic population is projected to be the major source of growth in the U.S. Catholic Church in the 21st Century


  • Recognize and affirm the cultural diversity of the Church

  • Develop a common ecclesial vision and strategies that promote the specificity of each ministry and strengthens the unity of the Body of Christ

  • Create a place in the decision-making table for all

  • Hispanics called to share their leadership with the entire Church


  • For the first time in its history, the Church in the United States comes together at the national level to recognize and affirm the cultural, racial, and ethnic diversity of its members

  • The Encuentro 2000 national event, celebrated in Los Angeles, brought together more than 5,000 participants among bishops, priests, religious men and women, and lay national leaders from diverse ministries and ethnic and cultural groups in the Church

  • USCCB includes the recognition and affirmation of its cultural diversity as an integral part of its mission and makes it explicit within its objectives

  • Six more Hispanic bishops are named


  • Convocation and celebration of a National Symposium to Refocus Hispanic Ministry

  • Publication and promotion of the document Encuentro & Mission: A Renewed Pastoral Framework for Hispanic Ministry

  • Development of diocesan pastoral plans based on Pastoral de Conjunto

  • Many Faces in God’s House video is produced in English and Spanish

Hispanic Ministry at a Glance

Total population of U.S. Hispanics in 2000 Census1 35.3 million
Percentage of U.S. population2 12.5%
Percentage of U.S. Hispanic population under age 183 37.5%
Percentage of U.S. Hispanic population 18-644 59.0%
Percentage of U.S. Hispanic population age 65 or more5 5.3%
Percentage of Hispanic population, native born (1980)6 80%
Percentage of Hispanic population, native born (1990)7 64%
Percentage of Hispanic population, foreign born (2000)8 39.1% (60.9% nacidos aquí)
Percentage of U.S. Catholic population growth since 1960
(due to Hispanics)9
Percentage of U.S. Catholics who are Hispanic10 39%
Percentage of Hispanics who are Catholic (2002)11 72.6%
Approximate number of U.S. parishes with Hispanic ministry12 4,000
Percentage of U.S. parishes with majority Hispanic presence13 20.6%
Number of Hispanic priests in the United States14 2,900
Number of U.S.-born Hispanic priests (approx.)15 500
Percentage of Hispanic priests in the United States16 6.3%
Catholics per U.S. priest17 1,230
Hispanic Catholics per Hispanic priest18 9,925
Hispanic percentage of seminarians19 13%
Percentage of Hispanic priests ordained in 200220 15%
Number of active U.S. bishops21 281
Number of active Hispanic bishops22 25
Ratio of U.S. bishops to general Catholic population23 1:231,000
Ratio of U.S. Hispanic bishops to
U.S. Hispanic Catholic population 24
1:1 million