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Catholic Extension to give Salt Lake Diocese $270K

A group of Hispanic Catholics follow a cross as they participate in an Easter march through central Ogden toward the cathedral on 24th street in 2008.
A group of Hispanic Catholics follow a cross as they participate in an Easter march through central Ogden toward the cathedral on 24th street in 2008.
Brian Nicholson, Deseret News

CHICAGO, Ill. — Catholic Extension has announced it is awarding $3,752,416 in grants this year to 41 dioceses to help support Hispanic programs, particularly leadership development. Grant requests include making bi-literate seminarian education more accessible and affordable, providing support for youth and family ministries and developing effective advocacy programs.

Catholic Extension pledged $270,000 to the Diocese of Salt Lake City over the course of five years to help support its burgeoning Hispanic Catholic population. The diocese estimates that the spiritual needs of as many as 200,000 Catholic Hispanics are not being met in Salt Lake City because the growth of this community is dramatically outpacing current resources. The funds will allow the diocese to create a lay ecclesial minister formation program to accommodate Spanish-speaking candidates seeking leadership roles in the Church. Currently, Hispanic/Latino bishops only make up 9 percent of all Catholic bishops in the United States.

The grants will help educate persons to meet the needs of local Spanish-speaking faith communities. Without any local Catholic institutes of higher learning, the diocese has reached beyond its diocesan borders for support. Prominent Hispanic theologians representing theological institutes from around the country will provide content for this leadership program.

By 2020, it is estimated that Hispanics will make up the majority of the Catholic population in the United States The funds will be particularly helpful for developing Hispanic leaders in the Church.

"As the Hispanic Catholic population grows, it is important that we help Hispanics become leaders, not just of other Hispanics, but in the Church as a whole," said Dr. Arturo Chavez, president and CEO of the Mexican American Catholic College and appointee to President Barack Obama's Council for Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. "Clearly, Catholic Extension recognizes the need to harness the power of this growing demographic by funding key educational opportunities so that a new generation of Church leaders is able to reach beyond cultural boundaries."

Forty one dioceses across the U.S. will benefit from Catholic Extension's grants to Hispanic ministries.