Editor’s note: The Diocese of Madison’s Hispanic Ministry Program reaches out to Spanish-speaking people in many communities throughout the diocese. Information is provided here on one of these programs. The Annual Catholic Appeal partially funds Hispanic outreach efforts.
Thanks to the intercessory prayers and the dedicated work of a core group of devoted members from both the English and the Spanish communities, the Program of Catechesis of Holy Redeemer has become a clear and overwhelming success.
Seeing the spiritual needs of so many in the Hispanic community, the Program of Catechesis was started during the summer of 2000 with the aim of reaching the adult population through their children.
More requests for sacraments
The initial program began directly presenting the Word of God to children and adults, which in turn produced a steady increase in participants and conversions. As a consequence, the requests for the Sacraments of Initiation and the Sacrament of Marriage exploded.
To answer the need, various preparatory programs were established including Baptism classes for the parents of infants and small children held on Wednesdays at 7 p.m.; catechetical instruction for grade school children held on Saturdays at 10 a.m. and Sundays at 1 p.m. that follows the public school schedule; adult evangelization for the parents of children and other adults held on Saturdays at 10 a.m. and Sundays at 1 p.m.; and marriage preparation held on Saturdays at noon and Mondays at 7 p.m. that includes Natural Family Planning instruction. Except for the adults, the catechetical instruction is preferentially given, at all levels, in English.
During the last period over 180 children were baptized, 152 children and adults received First Holy Communion, 54 were confirmed, and 26 couples received the Sacrament of Marriage.
The catechism classes had 209 boys and girls from kindergarten to 12th grade and the adult evangelization classes had 120 attendees; an increase in this participation is expected next cycle.
It is from this latter program that the volunteers for the liturgy and the meal program of Pro Labore Dei come.
First Communion is only offered on Corpus Christi Mass every year, to emphasize Who they are receiving, after which a Solemn Procession with the Eucharistic Jesus is held, usually around the block of Holy Redeemer Church.
Although the Program of Catechesis began to reach the Hispanic population of Holy Redeemer, in the past seven years the program has been opened to all parishioners from the Spanish and English communities of Holy Redeemer and, since the merger, to all members of the Cathedral Parish.
Mass attendance and participation also skyrocketed. Spanish Mass attendance is routinely over 400 every Sunday and over 150 every Saturday. As a result, there was a need to have a Program of Liturgical Ministry, in which members of the community were trained as Ministers of the Altar and Hospitality (ushers). Mercedes Pozo, a long time parishioner of Holy Redeemer, with the encouragement and permission of the pastors, undertook the coordination of this ministry for the Spanish Masses in 2002.
Currently there are 22 lectors, 14 acolytes, 16 extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist, and 11 hospitality ministers. Two choirs grace the liturgy, on Saturdays the Abreus and Sundays the Aguilars.
The Program of Catechesis also offers two one-day retreats during Advent and Lent each year as ongoing spiritual formation with over 100 people consistently participating at each retreat.
Many blessings have resulted due to the hard work of so many faithful volunteers, and with the help of Almighty God and the permission of the Church authorities of the Cathedral Parish, we hope to go even further and achieve total integration.
Our future goals include training and deploying new catechists at all levels for the purpose of reaching the citizenry of Madison in their own homes through door-to-door evangelization and to refurbish the auditorium of the school building to provide lectures, chamber music concerts, recitals, and other events to attract the downtown population and to firmly establish our Catholic presence.
Milton L. Pozo, M.D., is coordinator of the Program of Catechesis at Holy Redeemer Parish, Madison