What's New and Key Documents

New! Check out the Executive Director's blog post below ... "To Remain in Christ, A Christian Must Choose Loveby Mar Muñoz-Visoso, MTS.  Also new, check out the One Church Many Cultures: The Good News of Cultural Diversity Spring/Summer 2021 newsletter articles 

Journey Together Initiative - Is now online. Go to the web page to learn about the new process. 

A letter from Bishop Nelson J. Pérez, Chairman of the Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church, shares some thoughts with a Message to the Voice and Vision Summi National Summit for Ministries with Young Adults at Franciscan University

Resource! Two River Report on Catholic Native American Culture and Ministry about the two rivers of Native American Catholic faith and cultures that flow into one. In the report, you will find an updated study from CARA concerning Native American ministry, both in terms of challenges and opportunities. The report also examines the gifts of Catholic Native American ministry.

Approved Documents

CHAIRMAN’S REFLECTION

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

Archbishop Nelson Perez

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!

A MESSAGE FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

New blog post from the desk of the Executive Director of the Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church

María del Mar Muñoz-Visoso, Executive Director of the Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church

To Remain In Christ, A Christian Must Choose Love 

By: Mar Muñoz-Visoso, MTS

I have a communications background. Following the news regularly and contrasting my sources is ingrained in my DNA as a former journalist. I cannot help but want to know what happened today in the world both around me and far away. Hearing different versions is always fascinating and usually helps one to gain some perspective. I got into Catholic journalism, originally, because it allowed me to combine two passions: proclaiming the Good News and telling a good story. Or better yet, it afforded me the opportunity to share inspirational stories about everyday heroes and saints.

My current occupation does not allow me to write as often as I used to but the hunger for news is still there, good news especially. And yet, more and more, I feel tempted to disengage, to turn off the “bad news”. It seems that’s all there is to report anymore! There are days in which I feel the need to stop the torrent of stories filled with violence, hateful acts and hateful speech, disrespect of certain groups of people and communities, and blunt general disregard for human life and the dignity of all people.

Sometimes one needs to take a break from so much negativity, repeated a thousand times and spreading online like a virus. Constant exposure to it affects our mood and our relationships, and after a while people begin to believe that is all there is to the world, a scary place where every man is for himself, where there is no room for cordial engagement or collaboration for the common good. Weariness makes the temptation to disengage loom large. But looking the other way or disengaging from what is going on around us, and sometimes because of us, is akin to the attitude that Jesus exposes about the priest and the Levite in the story of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:25-37).

In Fratelli Tutti Pope Francis uses this parable to analyze our social relationships, and the language he proposes is striking: “It could be said that, here and now, anyone who is neither a robber nor a passer-by is either injured himself or bearing an injured person on his shoulders.” (FT 70) This language frightens me. It prompts me to think: Lord, which one of those characters am I? What does my personal life and ministry look like? Am I a robber? A passerby? Am I injured and in need of healing myself? How many injured lives am I carrying on my shoulders?

The story of the Good Samaritan is constantly being repeated in today’s world. And yet, Francis reminds us that Jesus uses this parable to encourage us, to show us the Christ-like path forward. What is a Christian to do in front of so much violence and suffering, danger and injustice?

The Lord encourages us “to persevere in love, to restore dignity to the suffering and to build a society worthy of the name.” (FT 71). What if we were all to examine our everyday actions and reactions, our ministry and witness through the lenses of those three verbs: Today, how much did I persevere in love, contribute to restoring the dignity of others, and help to build a true community? How about my community of faith and those who I admire, how well did they measure up? How well did the sources I rely on for information and education do?

As Catholic Christians, we are called to fashion our communities and relationships in the image and likeness of the Holy Trinity, a true communion of love and life, our model per excellence of unity in diversity brought together by the strongest bond of all: Love. It is our contribution to the world and to society. Or at least it should be.

It is hard to “persevere in love”. Yet, that is exactly what is required of any Christian worthy of their name. “As the Father loves me, so I love you. Remain in my love” (Jn 15:9) A true follower of Christ cannot be a passerby, ignoring human suffering and looking the other way; cannot remain indifferent to human suffering and hateful speech; cannot and should not contribute in any way to sowing division or inciting violence against others. A true Christian allows the Holy Spirit to help them overcome their fear and become the personification of the merciful embrace of the Father. A Christian must act to restore dignity; must employee the means at his or her disposal to heal injuries and divisions and allow the “Inn-keeper” to do what is necessary to restore health. As a member of the One Body, a Christian cannot tell another member “I don’t need you” (cf. 1Cor 12:21-22). And God forbid that we Christians, individually or collectively, be ourselves the “robbers” of the dignity of others…

So, let us not allow ourselves to be uprooted and carried away by the twisters and tornados of the “bad news” constantly on display, even in Catholic social media. No. A Christian must persevere in love, like a tree firmly planted and a house built on solid rock. After all, Christ leaves no room for interpretation: “This I command you: Love one another.” (Jn 15:17)

Mandate


The mandate of the Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church, and its corresponding Secretariat, is to be present on behalf of the Bishops’ Conference to the many cultures, ethnicities and races that today constitute the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. The goal is to encourage the inclusion and fuller participation of all God's People in the life and ministry of the Church by building up their Catholic identity and spirit of unity in diversity.

Throughout the United States we experience profound demographic shift as Hispanics, Asians, Africans, Caribbean people, and many other communities of non-European origin are on the rise. Today, as ever, the Church's mission to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and promote the life and dignity of each and every human being has much to do with insight into cultures. Catholic parishes are moving from mono-cultural patterns to ones we call "shared," that is, to parishes in which more than one language, racial or cultural group seek to celebrate the Eucharist and embody Christian community. For ministers and pastoral workers to be effective in this diverse environment, the right knowledge, attitudes and skills need to be developed.

Our Intercultural Competencies page explains the five competencies that were defined by the U.S. bishops in making “Recognition of Cultural Diversity in the Church” one of their priorities. The manual Building Intercultural Competence for Ministers has been developed and can be found online or obtained in print from USCCB's Store. If interested in hosting or organizing a training, please contact Yolanda Taylor-Burwell at @email or 202-541-3152.

The Secretariat of Cultural Diversity is also looking for opportunities to partner with Catholic colleges and universities, and other institutions of higher education to disseminate the competency guidelines. Contact the Secretariat’s executive director, Mar Muñoz-Visoso, for information: @email or 202-541-3350.

Additional resources are available such as the study of Best Practices in Shared Parishes So That They Mall All Be One for pastors and their team. This resource was developed in consultation with and from the experience of nearly 20 pastors of multicultural/shared parishes from around the country. And "Creating a Culture of Encounte Guide for Joyful Missionary Disciples"This resource is an adaptation of the national Encuentro process with the main goal to discern ways in which the local church can better respond to those who live on the peripheries of society.

Just as with the first evangelization, the New Evangelization compels us to go and make disciples of all nations. In the United States of America, we do not need to go too far to find people “of all nations.” That’s our blessing and our challenge.

Sincerely,

Mar Muñoz-Visoso, MTS Executive Director