Forming the emerging Hispanic leadership of the Church

“I learned that Church leaders of the future will be, increasingly, lay people and must have a heart for service. Without lacking humility, they must grow in confidence. This is especially true in the case of women,” said Marina Alonso de Gallo, a participant in the Diocese of St. Augustine. 

Alonso de Gallo is one of more than 60 leaders who have taken part in the advanced leadership formation program known as the Latino Pastoral Leaders Initiative. Created in response to the growing needs of the Hispanic/Latino Catholic community raised during the V National Encuentro of Hispanic/Latino Ministry process, the 12-month-long Latino Pastoral Leaders Initiative offers comprehensive formation and leadership development that meets the unique needs and challenges faced by Hispanic/Latino leaders in the Church. 

Leadership Roundtable launched the Initiative in 2021 in the Diocese of Joliet in Illinois. The program expanded with a second cohort in the Diocese of St. Augustine, Florida, and grew again with a cohort in the Diocese of Austin, Texas in 2022. The initiative will continue to be offered in partnership with dioceses throughout the U.S. 

Throughout the intensive and comprehensive program, Hispanic/Latino parish and diocesan staff, volunteers, clergy, and religious women walked together to master the program’s elements. In a combination of large and small group settings, participants learned best practices in Church management, developed new relationships with their peers, created personal leadership development plans, and expanded their network within their diocese — all with the goal to grow the capacity of Hispanic/Latino ministers to lead in myriad Church settings. 

“I’ve experienced that we can work together, that we are one community, that we can go forth and respond to what God calls us to do. I loved this experience. It filled me and gave me hope,” said Betzaida Vélez, a participant in the Diocese of St. Augustine and a Service Minister of the Blessed Trinity Parish in Jacksonville, FL. 

“The best part of this entire initiative was how personal it all became. It started at first, at least in my mind, as something instructional — an opportunity to gain skills, to evaluate our abilities — but it really became something personal,” Daniel Cobreiro, a participant in the Diocese of St. Augustine, shared. “This program has created a better leader and a better person in myself.” 

This piece is a segment from the 2022 Latino Pastoral Leaders Impact Report.

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