Redescubre: initiative making strides in Latino community

| February 28, 2013 | 0 Comments
Photo of Fr. Joseph Williams at Redescubre: event

Father Joseph Williams speaks at Incarnation in Minneapolis as part of the Redescubre: speakers series. Jim Bovin / For The Catholic Spirit

While most Catholics in the archdiocese may be familiar with the Rediscover: initiative through the free distribution last Christmas of the book “Rediscover Catholicism” and the current Rediscover: Speakers Series, they are likely less familiar with Redescubre: — the initiative’s Spanish-language counterpart.

Redescubre: also included free book distribution, and it features a speakers series with talks on themes of meaning and belonging.

The effort has been a good “way to help people find God or go back to him in their lives,” said Verónica Arias, who is a Redescubre: leader with her husband at Our Lady of Guadalupe in St. Paul.

The book for Redescubre: is “Manual para el católico de hoy” (“Handbook for Today’s Catholic”) from Liguori Publications.

The book, which includes a letter to the Latino community from Archbishop John Nienstedt, meets one of the key goals of local Latino ministry efforts, particularly among the immigrant community: “giving people the formation they need so they can understand and better live the faith that they already have,” said Marta Pereira, who works in Latino ministry as part of the archdiocese’s Office of Parish Services.

A total of about 8,500 copies have been distributed at the 23 archdiocesan parishes that have Masses in Spanish and at 25 other parishes with immigrant populations, she said.

Some parishes are hosting discussions about the book in group settings, and others had planned to host similar events during Lent, Pereira said.

Nurturing community

Two identical Redescubre: talks were held in February at Our Lady of Guadalupe and Incarnation in Minneapolis.

At total of about 800 adults came to hear Father Joseph Williams, pastor of St. Stephen in Minneapolis, speak on the theme, “Rediscover: the meaning of life. Find it in God,” Pereira said. The parishes provided child care during the talks for about 200 children.

The events also featured music, including a special song titled “Redescubre” that was written by musician Cesar Cruz of Holy Rosary parish in Minneapolis who performed along with Kathy O’Brien of St. Stephen in Minneapolis. They hope to sing the song with young people at the second round of speakers series talks in March, Pereira said. The gatherings ended with exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and then refreshments.

“Everybody liked and enjoyed the talk,” said Arias, who was on the child care team at Our Lady of Guadalupe but listened to the presentation at Incarnation. “It made all of them think about what God’s plan is for them.”

The next two talks — on the themes of belonging and community with Father Erik Lundgren of Divine Mercy in Faribault, where he works with the Spanish-speaking community — are slated for 10 a.m. March 9 at Our Lady of Guadalupe and 6:30 p.m. March 15 at Incarnation.

“The idea is to convey that immigrants or Latinos can find in the Church a real sense of community,” Pereira said. “It’s the same community that we all find, but for them, in particular, it’s so important because the Church offers them the place where they can be themselves without feeling like they’re aliens in a place where they don’t belong. It is the community of the universal Church, which offers them the treasure of the sacraments, in ­particular the Eucharist, the source and summit of our faith.”

Many Latino immigrants have faced numerous hardships, but they still maintain a deep faith in God.

“We want to say to them, ‘The Church is your home. The Church is your community. Here in the sacraments you find the strength and inner freedom we are longing for. It’s not just coming on Sundays. It’s about feeling part of the community. . . . You are a person in the image of God regardless of all the situations that are surrounding you, and he is the one who gives your life true meaning,’” she said.

Redescubre: organizers hope to extend the initiative’s outreach in the future.

In the meantime, the hope is to have a large contingent of Latinos at the 2013 Rediscover: Catholic Celebration Oct. 12 at the St. Paul RiverCentre.

Pereira said the Latino population is growing locally and around the country and “there is a need for people to understand we are in a very diverse Church.”

“Redescubre: is a beautiful opportunity to reach out to Latino Catholics in the archdiocese and invite them, as Pope Benedict the XVI has asked us, to rediscover the journey of faith and reaffirm the idea that the meaning and purpose of our lives, the sense of belonging, the strength, the true freedom and peace are already there in the beautiful gift of our Catholic faith,” she said.

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