Latino ministry ramps up effort to reach youth

| October 23, 2019 | 0 Comments


An evening of prayer, worship and praise, Mass, speakers and fellowship will be held Nov. 1 — All Saints Day — for Hispanic and Latino high school youth across the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

The next day, a second annual family event will include many of the same elements.

The Office of Latino Ministry is headlining both gatherings. For the high school event, the office is collaborating with youth ministry organization NET Ministries.

Called Lifeline Latinamente, the evening at the Net Center in West St. Paul will be much like Lifeline gatherings NET Ministries has held once each month for high school students in the archdiocese for the last 25 years.

Already about a dozen buses are lined up through parishes and ministries and more than 300 students are expected. But no one needs to register for the free event, there is room for about 500 people and high school students are invited to simply show up, organizers said.

“We’ve really wanted to do this,” said Estela Villagrán Manancero, director of the archdiocese’s Office of Latino Ministry, noting that it is the first time NET Ministries has held such a gathering specifically for Latinos in high school.

Karina Avila, Hispanic outreach specialist at NET Ministries, said that across the country, about 60 percent of Catholic youth under age 18 are Latino.

Those youth need to be reached, she said. In the archdiocese, not many of them were coming to the Lifeline events, and those who did often weren’t familiar with the forms of prayer being used and were not accustomed to celebrating Mass only in English.

“This is an effort to make sure they know they are seen and heard,” Avila said.

The gathering at the Net Center is designed to help draw youth in the years after their confirmation, which many treat as a kind of graduation that triggers a drifting away from the faith, Manancero said.

And it won’t be the only such gathering. NET Ministries and the archdiocese also are planning Lifeline Latinamentes for March 6 and May 1.

Running from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., the Nov. 1 gathering will include a Florida-based speaker, Mari Pablo, discussing holiness, or “La Santidad,” which is the theme for the event. A live band will feature Nate Reinhardt, lead guitarist of the popular faith group “Sonar,” and musicians from St. Odilia in Shoreview.

Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens will preside at the Mass, which will be celebrated in English and Spanish, and the music and other parts of the evening will be in English and Spanish.

Bishop Cozzens also will preside at a Mass at the Latino family event, “Encuentro Familiar,” Nov. 2 at Visitation School in Mendota Heights.

There will be talks on the theme “The Word of God, Light for My Family” or “Palabra de Dios, Luz para Mi Familia,” as well as adoration of the Eucharist and breakout sessions for youths and adults. Child care will be available for children up to age 3, and faith-based activities will be offered for children ages 4 to 10. Breakfast and lunch will be provided at the free 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. gathering.

About 600 people came to last year’s inaugural event, organizers said.

“It’s like a retreat for the whole family,” Manancero said.

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Category: Local News