Archdiocesan Latino ministry director wins national CRS award

| November 21, 2017 | 0 Comments

Estela Villagrán Manancero stands in her office in the chancery of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Estela Villagrán Manancero, director of the Office of Latino Ministry for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, is the national recipient of Catholic Relief Services’ inaugural Hispanic Heritage Partner Award.

The award recognizes the efforts of CRS partners within Hispanic ministry across the country for their support and promotion of CRS’ resources, programs and mission. Baltimore-based CRS announced the national award and five regional winners Oct. 1. 

The award “recognizes my work in being a bridge between the Latino community and the global mission of CRS,” Manancero told The Catholic Spirit.

Manancero joined a CRS delegation of 10 Latino leaders to Burkina Faso and Ghana in 2010. CRS is the international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States.

“When we came back from that beautiful trip, we as a team did some reflection and brainstorm[ing] about how we would spread the news of CRS among the whole country, and what were the action steps that we were going to take,” she said.

They realized that they needed much more material about CRS’ work in Spanish, because, despite CRS’ work in their countries of origin, many Latino immigrants in America were unaware of CRS’ work. She’s seen CRS respond by adding Spanish-speaking staff and providing more materials in Spanish.

A native of Uruguay, Manancero continues to promote CRS in the archdiocese and within the Latino community. She noted that Holy Rosary in Minneapolis, a predominately Latino parish, is especially engaged with the CRS Rice Bowl project, which collects funds for CRS programs while helping people learn about the people they help.

The Latino Catholic community is generally generous, even among its poorer members, she said. 

As president of the National Catholic Association of Diocesan Directors for Hispanic Ministry, Manancero added CRS as a partner in the association’s website and has shared CRS articles, videos and other resources. She also ensures CRS’ mission and programs are presented at the annual orientation for the association’s new members.

NCADDHM’s connection to CRS helps CRS to build relationships with Latino leaders in U.S. dioceses, she said. “The directors know what they’re all about,” she said.

In November, the NCADDHM partnered with CRS for an advocacy day on global issues, in which members met with their representatives in Congress.

The archdiocesan director of the Office of Latino Ministry since 2012, Manancero began working in Latino ministry for the archdiocese a decade earlier. She previously worked as a wedding coordinator at Pax Christi in Eden Prairie. She is a parishioner of St. Alphonsus in Brooklyn Center.

“I felt happy to be recognized,” she said. “All the work that I do, I never do it with thinking that I could be rewarded for anything [besides for] in heaven.”

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