This article originally appeared in the Fall/Winter 2014 issue of JESUITS magazine. To read the full magazine online, click here.
According to a study published by Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, Hispanic men and women account for 70% of the growth of the Catholic population in the United States since 1960. Today, innovative programs coordinated by The Jesuit Collaborative are working to harness the momentum of this fast-growing group of believers and offering them new ways to embrace Ignatian spirituality. JESUITS magazine spoke with Carlos Aedo, director of Hispanic ministry at The Jesuit Collaborative, as he discussed the Collaborative’s efforts.
What makes the Hispanic community different from other American Catholic communities?
Hispanic Catholics come from countries where God is present in their daily lives, language and culture. When they arrive in the United States, they sometimes encounter a culture that has somehow removed religious language and customs from everyday life. They are hungry for spirituality and constantly looking for places and experiences that can nurture their faith.
How has the Hispanic Catholic community embraced Ignatian spirituality?
Ignatian prayer has helped Hispanic men, women and young people to encounter God in new ways and begin to realize that God actually is present in our country and culture. Quiet reflection resonates with them because silence is a big part of the way Hispanic people encounter God. Hispanics are intrigued with the possibility of developing a personal relationship with God.
What programming does The Jesuit Collaborative offer to Hispanic Catholics?
We offer two experiences to respond to the needs of people who want to learn more about Ignatius and Jesuit spirituality—the Ignatian Reflection and the Day of Ignatian Prayer. The day of reflection introduces participants to St. Ignatius’ experience of God and his method of decision making, while the day of prayer offers the chance to silently engage in Ignatian prayer.
What are key ways that The Jesuit Collaborative is working to bring these ministries to more people?
We operate the School of Ignatian Spirituality, which creates partners who can help us in this ministry, men and women who can bring these days of reflection and prayer to other places. We are also mobile and flexible. People can sign up for text messages that alert them to our ministries taking place in their area. So far, we have worked with all of the Jesuit parishes on the East Coast, as well as many diocesan parishes and communities.
This year, The Jesuit Collaborative’s Hispanic ministry programs will be present in 15 cities along the East Coast. For more information, visit www.jesuitcollaborative.org or text JESUIT to 25827.