This Diocesan Pastoral Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry is to guide ministry efforts with the Hispanic/Latino community in the Diocese of Owensboro from July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2026. It was prompted by the process, consultation and conclusions of the V National Encuentro of Hispanic/Latino Ministry that took place from 2017 to 2020. It was created through a synodal process, in other words, walking together, with a pastoral planning
team of representatives of the 14 parishes that have a Hispanic/Latino community, in collaboration with various diocesan directors and in constant communication with Bishop Medley. Using the Pastoral Circle of See-Judge-Act, they examined the reality of the Hispanic/Latino community, studied ecclesial documents and recommended projects at the diocesan level.
Four strategic priorities were identified for Hispanic/Latino Ministry in the next five years:
The Diocesan Pastoral Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry describes the current reality of the Hispanic/Latino community, offers some quotes from ecclesial documents, and presents the projects proposed at the diocesan level for the next five years. Parish leadership is encouraged to discern local actions and responses, and to consider how diocesan offices could support them.
Hispanic/Latino Ministry began in the Diocese of Owensboro in 1993 through the impetus of Sr. Francis Mary “Fran” Wilhelm, OSU, better known as “La Hermana Panchita,” with the support of Bishop John J. McRaith, may they both rest in peace, with the opening of Centro Latino in the outskirts of Owensboro.
Bishop McRaith opened the diocesan office of Hispanic/Latino Ministry in 1997. In the following decades the Hispanic/Latino community continued to grow in various parts of the diocese and more parishes began to have Masses in Spanish and ministries directed toward Hispanics. A variety of priests, religious sisters and brothers, deacons, and laity have served the Hispanic/Latino community with devotion and dedication over the years. For a more complete historical memory of Hispanic/Latino Ministry, see Appendix A. The first Diocesan Pastoral Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry was in effect from 2007 to 2011. This plan focused on Formation, Missionary Option, Collaboration (Pastoral de Conjunto), and Liturgy & Prayer, all within the context of the New Evangelization.
In 2009 Bishop McRaith retired and Pope Benedict XVI appointed Bishop William F. Medley in 2010. The Diocese of Owensboro developed a 2012-2015 Strategic Plan with six goals and it was adapted to the Hispanic/Latino community to guide Hispanic/Latino Ministry efforts. The goals focused on the New Evangelization through fostering spirituality, a commitment to faith formation, the mission of evangelization, stewardship, and vocations. A diocesan office for Hispanic Youth & Young Adult Ministry was opened in 2012 but closed in 2016.
The Diocese of Owensboro developed a 2016-2018 Pastoral Plan with three priorities: Go! (Be a Church of mercy, open and welcoming to all), Make Disciples (Foster a sense of discipleship, vocations, and stewardship), and Teach (Provide ministries to promote human dignity, family, and the teachings of Jesus). As part of this plan an Ad Hoc Committee on Evangelization was created which resulted in opening a Diocesan Office of Evangelization in March 2017 and a four-year focus on evangelization. Each year focused on a theme based on the 2017 USCCB document Living as Missionary Disciples (LMD)1 : Encounter (2017-2018), Accompany (2018-2019), Community (2019-2020) and Send (2020-2021). At the same time, at the national level, the process of the V National Encuentro of Hispanic/Latino Ministry began.
In 2017, several parishes in our diocese participated in the sessions of the V National Encuentro with prayer, study and consultation with those in the peripheries following the themes of encounter, getting involved, accompanying, bearing fruit and celebrating based on the vision of Pope Francis for the universal Church expressed in his 2013 Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (EG)2 , the Joy of the Gospel. This consultation process continued with Parish Encuentros, a Diocesan Encuentro in August 2017, a Regional Encuentro in February 2018, and a National Encuentro in September 2018. Delegates from the Diocese of Owensboro participated at all levels, including a National Virtual In-Service in October 2020 to study the Proceedings and Conclusions of the V National Encuentro of Hispanic/Latino Ministry (P&C).3 The official delegates were: Miguelina Young (Paducah), Mayra Tirado (Hopkinsville), Dcn. Baltazar Rafael (Sebree), Claudia Valladares (Bowling Green), Fr. Carmelo Jiménez (Spiritual Director for Hispanic/Latino Ministry), Dcn. Chris Gutiérrez (Diocesan Director of Hispanic/Latino Ministry) and Bishop William F. Medley.
The process, consultation, and conclusions of the V Encuentro prompted the beginning of another pastoral planning process for Hispanic/Latino Ministry in the Diocese of Owensboro from July 2020 to March 2021. This new plan goes into effect on July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2026.