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Report on Culture and its Impact on Leadership Initiative. October, 2012.

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The Culture and its Impact on Leadership Initiative was developed under the leadership of the National Federation of Priests’ Councils (NFPC) and the support of the National Association for Lay Ministry (NALM) and the Conference for Pastoral Planning and Council Development (CPPCD)

Culture and its impact on leadership initiative
Culture and its Impact on Leadership Initiative


To understand the role of culture in transforming and adapting leadership models for the Church  

Executive summary
Executive Summary

  • There are untapped forms of leadership among the various ethnic groups.

  • As a Church we need to be more intentional in calling forth leaders from various cultures.

  • The cultural diversity of our parishes and faith communities require that all ministers be equipped with cultural competence in order to serve all of God’s people.

  • Ten recommendations to the wider Church resulted. These practical steps will lead to more effective efforts at calling forth and sustaining leaders from the various culture groupings that make up the Church in the United States, and strengthen the Church’s unity in its diversity.

Cara findings on multicultural parishes
CARA Findings on Multicultural Parishes

  • 56% of MP regularly serve a significant # of Catholics who are not registered.

  • Most of the Masses celebrated in a language other than English are celebrated in Spanish (81%), Portuguese (6%), Latin (4%), Vietnamese (2%), sign language (1%), Italian (1%), and Polish (1%).

  • Parish leaders in MP (any race and ethnicity) are more likely to agree they feel “very much” prepared to work in a multicultural environment (22% compared to 19%)

Cara findings on lay ecclesial ministers
CARA Findings on Lay Ecclesial Ministers

  • Non-Anglo PL’s are more likely than Anglos to say they first entered ministry because they “wanted to minister to a particular group”

  • Non-Anglo PL’s less likely to report encouragement from a priest (45% compared to 53%)

  • About 27% of PL’s were inspired to be in ministry by a movement: 32% among non-Anglo PL’s and 32% among leaders within MP’s.

  • Hispanic leaders are most likely to report inspiration by a movement (36%)

  • There is 13% of paid Hispanic parish staff in the United States

  • 83% of ministry staff is non-Hispanic white

  • About 9% of all PL’s use Spanish and 2% other language

  • Anglo respondents are more likely than non-Anglos to report a wage for ministry to the parish (52% compared to 43%)

  • Non-Anglo PL’s are among the most likely to say they were responding God’s call (67%)

Reflections advisory board and symposium participants
Reflections Advisory Board and Symposium Participants

  • Multicultural Parish

  • Lay Ministers

  • Formation of Lay Ministers

Issues to consider on the cara data
Issues to consider on the CARA Data

  • Registration in parishes is not a custom for many Hispanic and Asian Catholics.

  • Many ethnic communities celebrate the Eucharist once a month. Participants may be registered in “territorial parish” and attend the ethnic liturgy.

  • The Portuguese community (Brazil and Portugal) —two cultures that often need to be ministered separately.

  • African Americans worship in English. The study does not present specific statistics for this group

  • The majority of ethnic leaders work in MP’s where resources for formation are more limited

  • When the sacramental care of any ethnic group is delegated to visiting priest, there is an impact on the community and ministry.

Interpreting the report cara lem s
Interpreting the ReportCARA: LEM’s

  • If only 9%of PL’s use Spanish in ministry, the Church is not fully serving the 33% of Hispanic Catholics in the USA.

  • There is a predominant majority of European American lay leaders at the decision tables.

  • The role of the priest is crucial in the calling of ministers. Priests, especially pastors, need to invest time with the ethnic community.

Interpreting the report cara lem s1
Interpreting the Report CARA: LEM’s

  • Apostolic movements are growing among Hispanics &Filipino communities. Movements are “schools for leadership” and offer sense of ownership to the group.

  • Non-Anglos are more comfortable working in a multicultural setting. They may have learned instinctual ways to deal with the tensions among groups.

  • Most White-Non Hispanic leaders do not feel competent to work in multicultural setting & are the onesmaking the decisions!

Interpreting the report cara lem s2
Interpreting the ReportCARA: LEM’s

  • In the eyes of many ethnic groups, ministry has lost the elements of being a volunteer or a “pastoral agent” leading many to see leadership as institutionalized and professionalized

  • Ethnic leaders treasure the sense of call to ministry - call from God and the community. Often, ethnic communities work with a council/team elected by the community – even if not recognized by the parish leadership.

Interpreting the report cara lem s3
Interpreting the ReportCARA: LEM’s

  • Need to acknowledge particular models of formation and leadership not recognized or affirmed by the larger discourse: Couples Encounters (MFC) Encuentro Matrimonial.

  • Obvious absence of youth from ethnic groups in leadership positions in the Church.

Interpreting the report cara lem s4
Interpreting the ReportCARA: LEM’s

  • Many exercising leadership as a paid staff member do so with limited support staff.

  • Budget cuts severely affected those in ethnic ministries. Jobs were either the first ones reduced or merged or combined or altogether eliminated.

  • Often, when a job opens up for consideration, the search will be conducted nationally rather than looking locally for talent that may have the skill set required for the position.

  • The institutional church advocates for social justice but is itself hard pressed to offer a just and living wage.

  • Formation centers such as: Mexican American Catholic College (MACC), SEPI, Fe y Vida, and Xavier University provide leadership formation among ethnic groups.


  • That future surveys target well known geographical areas : LA, FL.

  • Those charged with the creation of census numbers and the tracking of parishioners recognize that the traditional concept of parish affiliation has undergone a major shift. The traditional understanding of a “territorial” parish has given way to parishes that speak and celebrate key sacramental milestones in one’s native tongue and provides an atmosphere of hospitality. The parish has given way to a community of faith where one does not always register but is clearly a member.


  • That national, diocesan, seminary, formation, institutes of higher learning and parish leadership sponsor activities or events that celebrate the unity and diversity of the Church in the local area.

  • Those in the various stages of formation work with lay and ordained leaders should seek to incorporate the biblical and baptismal call of leadership.


  • Priests must be challenged to broaden their own view of leadership especially when dealing with communities not of their own cultural background.

  • Those in leadership need to consider inviting members of the ethnic communities to the decision-making table.


  • That diocesan and parish structures recognize and validate the ministry and leadership of the volunteer and pastoral agent as key roles in the life of the Church.

  • That all groups or organizations at any level within the Church structure exercising leadership over budget concerns give serious consideration to a just living wage to those hired in a leadership capacity for service to ethnic ministries


  • More research and pastoral initiatives are needed to understand and minister to the needs of second and third generation ethnic groups. Young adults can help address inclusion issues in a multicultural setting.

  • That all charged with the training and formation of leaders seek ways to implement the Intercultural Competencies developed by USCCB.

    • Develop a common vocabulary and terminology

    • broaden our own perspective

The Fellowship of the Believers, Acts 2, 42 - 47

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.