Catholic Extension program is largest single investment in the Hispanic Lay community

CHICAGO – March 20, 2013 – As the first Pope from Latin America is selected, many Hispanic American Catholics look to him as a source of hope and renewal for the Catholic Church.

More than 42% of Catholics in the U.S. are Hispanic, and they are predicted to be the majority of Catholics by 2020.* In light of that, however, fewer than 10% of the paid leadership in the Church is Hispanic.  Last fall, Catholic Extension launched the Hispanic Lay Leadership Initiative to fund the salaries of 100 new Hispanic lay leaders in poor mission dioceses across the U.S.  These new leaders will be able to reach out to thousands of Hispanic Catholics across the country.

“To build a solid future for the Catholic faith in the U.S., we must support Hispanic ministry in the Church,” said Catholic Extension President Father Jack Wall. “At Catholic Extension, we’re hiring skilled Hispanic lay leaders for the future of our Church in our country.  This supports a new generation of pastoral leaders that will build faith, inspire hope and ignite change as they serve as the hands and feet of Christ to a world in need.”

The election of Pope Francis, the first pope from Latin America, has resulted in a tremendous amount of media attention being focused on the Hispanic Catholic community.  Dr. Arturo Chavez, president and CEO of Mexican American Catholic College, has over 28 years of teaching and ministry experience, and is a supporter of the Hispanic Lay Leadership Initiative.

“There are many gifts and many opportunities that this growing population offers the church and the country,” said Dr. Chavez. “But the greatest challenge today is that only eight percent of the estimated 30,000 lay ecclesial ministers nationally are Hispanic.”

The Hispanic Lay Leadership Initiative isn’t simply a temporary solution to address an immediate need for Hispanic ministries, but to serve as a catalyst for a more substantial leadership investment in Hispanic ministry on the part of Catholic dioceses.

Tim Matovina, professor at the University of Notre Dame and author of Latino Catholicism, underlines the necessity to address this need through faith formation. “How we pass on the faith to the children and grandchildren of Latino immigrants is the leading indicator of where the Church will be 30 years from now. This is not a priority just for Hispanic ministry, the entire Catholic Church needs to be involved in it,” said Matovina.

This $15,000,000 initiative extends over a three-year period, and the cost of the positions will be split equally between Catholic Extension and the participating dioceses.

Visit the Catholic Extension website for more information on the Hispanic Lay Leadership Initiative.

About Catholic Extension
Catholic Extension uniquely contributes to the growth and vibrancy of the church in the U.S. by strategically investing in poor mission dioceses to unleash the power of faith that transforms hearts, lives and society. Based in Chicago, this national organization provides funding resources to dioceses and parishes to support programs and services investing in people, infrastructure and ministries. This support is given based on need, as well as passion and commitment to the growth of the Catholic faith. Since 1905, Catholic Extension has distributed more than $500 million to communities across America. For more information, visit

Amy Becker