Hispanic Conference: ‘The family between two cultures’

October 11, 2011

HOUSTON — The Region 10 Catholic Association of Diocesan Directors of Hispanic Ministry will host the bi-annual Hispanic Conference at the Catholic Charismatic Center from Oct. 21 to 23. This year’s theme is “The Family Between Two Cultures” and focuses on the unique challenges that immigrant families face — presented entirely in Spanish. 

The association seeks to advance Christ’s mission through the Hispanic people. Moreover, the organization works to nurture unity among the diverse people of God by providing resources, assistance and professional development for members of Diocesan Hispanic ministries in order to facilitate a common vision, integration, mutual support, enhanced skills and defense of Hispanics. Region 10 is composed of all dioceses in the states of Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. The conference is intended for adults and ministry leaders. Workshops and speeches will feature experts in the areas of marriage, vocations, pro-life issues and the Gospel. 

“This conference is an opportunity for Hispanic families to reflect on the challenges of preserving their culture and faith in modern society,” Father Dat Hoang, Archdiocesan Director of Vocations of Galveston-Houston said. Father Hoang will share his ideas at the conference on how to promote vocations within the Hispanic community.

The conference kicks off with a concert by Santiago Fernandez, a Hispanic liturgical music expert. 

On Saturday, the day begins with prayer and welcome, followed by an opening speech by Laura Celis, Houston Director for the Hispanic Healthy Marriage Initiative. She will address and talk of the challenges today’s immigrant families face.

“The biggest challenge that our community faces is — because immigrant parents are raising their children in America — the need to maintain our roots while moving toward the future,” Celis said. “Children need to keep their native language in addition to English because Spanish is the language of love that their parents speak to them — it is their connection, their history. However, parents also need to speak English because their grandchildren will be learning to speak English and want to communicate with their grandparents. This is a challenge that we are just starting to acknowledge.” 

Father Vicente Agila, administrator of Our Lady of Fatima in Galena Park, will share how the Gospel offers hope for immigrant families. 

“The Gospels will always be hope. Forever. In the past, present and future. Without exception, we are all brothers and sisters. We must incorporate new evangelization techniques and resources for families that will allow us to be more efficient in communicating God’s plan,” Agila said.

Helena Gonzales, coordinator for The Gabriel Project, will address issues of teen pregnancy and talk of how the ministry works in these delicate situations within the Hispanic community. 

“The Gabriel Project serves women in crisis pregnancies through education and love through pastoral care,” Gonzales said. “It is an apostolate of women serving other women in need. We become the hands, the feet, the heart of Jesus to someone who is going through a time of crisis. We’re not there to ‘fix’ her life, but rather be a manifestation of God’s infinite and healing love.”

“The Myths and Truths of Catholic Education and the Hispanic Community” will be left up to speaker Enrique Benitez, the Catholic school cooperatives director with the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. Teresita Johnson, associate director of Family Life Ministry with the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston will discuss the Pastoral letter “Marriage: Love and Life in God’s Plan.” †