The U.S.-Latin American Sisters Exchange Program will fund religious sisters from Latin American congregations who will come to minister among Latino immigrant populations in a “mission diocese” in the United States. The program is made possible through Catholic Extension’s partnership with the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, which has the goal of enhancing congregational vitality for religious sisters from the Global South. Therefore, while the sisters are ministering in the U.S., they will receive education and various trainings. This program will be mutually beneficial to the participating congregations and the faith communities in this country where they come to serve.
This program will include eleven participating mission dioceses that will each host a group of three sisters from a particular Latin American congregation that your local bishop has vetted and approved. The three sisters may have diverse jobs in the diocese, but need to be able to live together as a community.
This program will take place in two stages covering a five-year period, with an initial three-year pilot phase, that can be extended two additional years. The program will begin in 2014 and end in 2019.
Participating dioceses will receive funding to cover the following:
- Funding for the salary of the three sisters.
- Funding for the benefits of the three sisters (health insurance, retirement, etc.).
- Legal and immigration fees for processing their religious worker visas.
- Cost of education and language training for the three sisters.
- Travel costs for the bishop's interview with congregation's superior general or provincial.
Participating dioceses would receive approximately $125,000 per year to cover these costs. Over five years this would total more than $600,000.
This partnership seeks to accomplish the following benefits for the Church both in the Global North and the Global South:
- Latin American-based congregations that send their sisters to minister in the U.S. will advance the vitality of their congregations. The visiting sisters will receive theological, language, cultural, and pastoral leadership training and education. They also will have the experience of ministering collaboratively with other religious, clergy and laypeople, which will prepare them to serve in their new assignments when they return home.
- Mission dioceses of the U.S. that receive the visiting sisters will be able to reach many marginalized Catholics through their work, particularly in growing Hispanic Catholic communities and, over time, develop new lay leaders for ministry, as well as create new interest for vocations of service in the Church among young women and men.