Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
I write to you in a spirit of deep gratitude and hope.
We rejoice in knowing that the Hispanic/Latino people are a gift and a blessing to the Church and to the society in the United States. We know that millions of Hispanics/Latinos contribute to the life and the mission of the church in thousands of parishes and small ecclesial communities throughout the nation. Today we have an increasing number of priests, deacons, religious men and women and lay ecclesial ministers who provide leadership and service not only to the Hispanic/Latino but to the entire church. Furthermore, the proliferation of ecclesial movements such as Charismatic Renewal, Cursillo, Marriage Encounter and many other movements provide the church with great vitality and with renewed hope and joy. This rich harvest of ministers and ministries has allowed the formation of national and regional Catholic Hispanic organizations which significantly contribute to the development, formation and accompaniment and support of the increasing network of Catholic leaders of Hispanic/Latino heritage.
We are deeply grateful to God and to you for all that have been accomplished. But we know that there is still much to be done and, for that reason, we ask ourselves: What can we do today to continue strengthening the Hispanic/Latino leadership and its important mission in the Church and society in the United States? To respond to this question, the Bishops’ Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs has established the following among its priorities for 2010-2012:
To continue its New Evangelization efforts among the Hispanic/Latino faithful with an emphasis in ecclesial movements and their relationship to dioceses and parishes.
To strengthen the structure and ministerial competence of national and regional organizations which are part of the Hispanic/Latino ministry network as well as their collaborative ministry (pastoral de conjunto).
To promote higher education and faith formation among Hispanic/Latinos, especially, among young people.
To foster vocations to the priesthood and religious life among Hispanic/Latinos.
These priorities are part of the advancement and continuing education of the leadership of Hispanic/Latino ordained, religious men and women and laity and their service to the church. Included within each priority are finding creative responses to support and accompany those Hispanics/Latinos who face economic and spiritual difficulties as well various safety issues, such as those Mexican families on the border who are being stricken by displacement and deportation and by violence related to drug trafficking.
Once again, let us offer our efforts to the God of Life by working in His Vineyard and ask Him to bless us with enough love, hope and faith to yield abundant fruits just as Mary, our Mother and first disciple did.
Your brother in Christ,
Bishop Gerald Barnes
Bishop of San Bernardino