My Ministry at La Comunidad Hispana/Latina
Sunday, October 2, 2011
Sr. Jodi Min in Oakford Sisters

By:  Sr. Gladys Echenique

During these past two years, I have struggled to discern the Lord’s vision for a church like La Comunidad Hispana/Latina en Santa Elizabeth Ann Seton. The church is the largest of the 76 parishes in the Diocese of Tucson.  It is a beautiful church, and its parishioners have diverse racial and financial backgrounds. What they share in common is their generosity. They are always ready to reach out to the needy. 

The mission of La Comunidad Hispana/Latina en Santa Elizabeth Ann Seton is to proclaim the gospel in the Hispanic/Latino community and to bring Hispanic Catholics into enthusiastic participation in the life and mission of our church while strengthening the unity of the One Body of Christ.  At this point, the ministry of La Comunidad Hispana/Latina en Santa Elizabeth Ann Seton Church serves mostly first generation Hispanic/Latino immigrants. La Comunidad also is blessed to serve the children and adults of this first generation in their own language.

The experiences of second generation Hispanics are similar and at the same time quite different than that of their parents. Unfortunately, sometimes the second generation becomes alienated from their parents' culture. Many times they reject it and embrace the North American way as their own cultural norm. The conflicts that result are often regrettable.

The challenges of my ministry to the Hispanic/Latino (Spanish-speaking) congregation at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church are many. They are not necessarily more challenging than any ministry of non-Hispanic congregations, but they are peculiar challenges, specific to the reality of ministry to a first-generation immigrant population. Language barriers, employment difficulties, immigration, cultural and family issues add to individual and personal problems.

I would like to share what I am experiencing during my time at La Comunidad Hispana/Latina en Santa Elizabeth Ann Seton Church.  Specifically, I am finding that real love has everything to do with the choices we make about the way we treat people. For me theology is not simply about “faith seeking understanding” but also about generating knowledge born of love. Real love is not theory or talk; it is action. It is a decision concerning the way we behave in our relationship with other people. This is exactly what I am experiencing at La Comunidad Hispana/Latina en Santa Elizabeth Ann Seton Church.

I am learning that I cannot enjoy my ministry if I don’t learn to enjoy all different types of people, because my entire ministry is about people. God has created all kinds of people with many different temperaments and personalities (unity in diversity). Diversity is something God delights in.

I am also finding that people want to know you are listening to them.  They feel loved and valued when you listen to them. I realize that my time with the people of La Comunidad Hispana/Latina en Santa Elizabeth Ann Seton Church is a blessing and an opportunity to expand the hearts of people and races. Father Joseph Lombardo, the church pastor, and the pastoral staff have grown to respect and trust La Comunidad Hispana/Latina and are open to the gifts Hispanics bring.

September 2011 begins my third year here.  My prayer is that I will be seen as a puente -- a bridge builder, who is unafraid to open myself and to open doors to others in my church ministry.

Article originally appeared on Dominican Sisters of Oakford (http://oakforddominicans.org/).
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