Denver's Pioneer Center for Hispanic Catholics

"Full-Service" Facility Hailed by U.S. Bishops' Aide

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DENVER, Colorado, JULY 13, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The Denver Archdiocese's new center for Hispanic ministry will be a model for similar facilities nationwide, says a U.S. bishops' conference official.



"I believe 'Centro San Juan Diego' is unique in that it's a full-service culture center with a very direct connection with the Church," said Alejandro Aguilera-Titus, associate director for Hispanic affairs, in statements published Saturday by the Rocky Mountain News.

The $3 million center will offer an array of spiritual and social services to the archdiocese's fastest-growing group.

In a column in the Denver Catholic Register, Archbishop Charles Chaput explained: "The Centro will provide religious education, family life assistance and other vital services to Hispanic Catholics."

"Over the last 25 years, Hispanics have grown tremendously as a percentage of the U.S. population, especially in states like Colorado," he wrote. "This is very good news for the Church, because Hispanic Catholics bring with them deep traditions of family and faith. They're a vital part of our future and a source of renewal for the whole Catholic community.

"But this good news also creates challenges. New arrivals need help and a place to feel safe and welcome, and if they don't find these things in the Catholic Church, other religious groups will very happily oblige. More than 60,000 Hispanic Catholics leave the Church every year for sects and Protestant churches nationwide. This is a tragedy, and there's no one to blame but ourselves.

"It also reminds us that Hispanic Catholics have lived in Colorado for 400 years, and the many thousands who have remained faithful to the Church down through the generations are all the more admirable because, too often in the past, they were pushed to the margins."

Earlier, the Denver Catholic Register said the institute would help low-income Hispanics by providing both direct services and referrals to family resources and it would train catechetical and ministerial leaders for parishes. The institute also would serve as a retreat and conference center.