Today, more than half of young U.S. Catholics are Hispanic/Latino. While three-quarters of U.S. Catholics born before Vatican II identify as non-Hispanic Whites, 54 percent of Catholic millennials are Hispanic or Latino.
Therefore, ILS seeks to deepen the understanding of this population to help both Notre Dame students and leaders of the Church make decisions to improve the future of Latino communities. The Catholic Church is one of the most culturally diverse institutions in the United States and Catholic institutions and ministries need to adapt to growing diversity.
To achieve this goal, ILS partners with the Coalition for Spiritual and Public Leadership (CSPL) to learn about justice and leadership through the lens of activist Catholic leaders in the Latinx community.
With their support, as well as that of other organizations, ILS sponsored a student trip to The Teach-In 2019: Jornada por la Justicia, or Pilgrimage for Justice, a three-day gathering in El Paso, Texas. Over 400 Catholic youth and parent organizers, labor leaders, scholars, activists and students came together to understand and see first-hand the impact of recent attacks on Latinx people, such as the El Paso massacre.
Additionally, ILS is a founding member of the Latinx Catholic Leadership Coalition, a national organization built to remind our spiritual leaders of the increased need to confront the moral, social, political, and economic issues facing the people of the United States.
National Symposium on Catholic Hispanic Ministry
ILS was proud to host the Third National Symposium on Catholic Hispanic Ministry, which gathered major stakeholders in Catholic Hispanic ministry from across the U.S., including bishops, theologians, leaders from national organizations, and pastoral leaders from parishes and dioceses. The symposium’s theme, “Hispanic Ministry in the 21st Century: Mercy as Justice,” brought 55 leaders to the University of Notre Dame June 30–July 3, 2019.
The goal of this meeting was to analyze the connection between Hispanic Ministry and Catholic social teaching, particularly at a time when Hispanics and other underrepresented groups are being affected by social and political movements that undermine their dignity and rights. The Catholic Church in the United States, through its Hispanic Ministry efforts, needs to be at the forefront of the conversation of how to work to support Hispanic Catholics in conditions of vulnerability.
In September 2018, ILS led a Notre Dame delegation to participate in the V National Encuentro of Hispanic ministries with over 3,000 participants from 300 dioceses in Dallas, Texas.
Latino Studies Scholars Kelly Liang '21 and Aaron Benavides '21 attended a dinner with the 100 bishops present and participated in sessions to promote a vision of the Church in mission that develops effective pathways to invite, engage and form Hispanic Catholic youth to live out their baptismal vocation. The Encuentro is a four-year process throughout the United States to discern ways in which the Church in the United States can better respond to the Hispanic/Latino presence, and to strengthen the ways in which Hispanics/Latinos respond to the call to the New Evangelization as missionary disciples serving the entire Church.
Theology Professor Tim Matovina, ILS Director Luis Fraga, and graduate students in Latino theology also joined to promote Notre Dame’s role in preparing the future leaders of the U.S. and the U.S. Catholic Church.
"Being a part of the inaugural cohort of the Latino Studies Scholars Program has been a great blessing. Through the Institute for Latino Studies, I have found a family. The support of the ILS staff and fellow students has been essential to my Notre Dame experience. In particular, the ability to intern in Washington, D.C. with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops was an incredible opportunity that allowed me to participate in the V Encuentro, an important moment for Latino Catholics throughout the U.S. I am very grateful for the work of the Institute for Latino Studies and look forward to continuing to be a part of their efforts.”
— Aaron Benavides '21, Latino Studies Scholar, political science, and theology major and journalism minor; Director of Faith and Service, Student Government