Raul Velázquez
Raul Velázquez
On April 24, parish representatives from all over the Archdiocese of Portland will gather in Albany for an inservice that focuses on “Intercultural competencies for ministry in the parish context.”

Alejandro Aguilera-Titus, director of Hispanic/Latino Affairs at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, leads the workshop. He will share skills and attitudes needed for intercultural ministry in modern parishes.

At $15, the course is accessible to leaders from all over the archdiocese.  

These types of sponsored trainings are one way the archdiocese supports the mission of unity in a strong Catholic identity. Raúl Velázquez, director of the Hispanic Ministries in the archdiocese, responds to the needs of the Hispanic community, but also facilitates assistance for Religious and laypeople to build intercultural bridges.

“It’s about understanding the different cultures and styles of communication and how to get along with different points of view,” Velázquez said.

In the 1970s, the archdiocese created programming to formally serve and support Hispanic leadership. At first, geographical missions were established, which held Spanish Mass for Hispanics across multiple parishes. In 1989, then-archbishop now-Cardinal William Levada asked that each parish take responsibility for the pastoral care of their own community, and to welcome and serve the needs of their Hispanic population.

Even though the archdiocese has a small percentage of Hispanic priests compared to the demographics of Catholics in the region, Velázquez said they have had great successes, primarily because pastors are supportive and willing to serve, even with the challenge of a language barrier.

“Language is important but it’s not essential when there’s a communication from heart to heart,” Velázquez said.