Saint Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology

Formation and Education for the Life of the Church

News

Grant will fund Spanish curriculum for deacon formation

August 31, 2017

The Association of Theological Schools (ATS) in the United States and Canada has awarded an innovation grant to produce a Spanish-language curriculum for permanent deacon formation. Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in Indiana and Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology of Seton Hall University in New Jersey will collaborate on the project.

"I applaud your collaboration in an initiative to develop a best practices regimen and curriculum of formation for Spanish-speaking deacons," said Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, CSsR, Archbishop of Newark.

As the permanent diaconate in the United States reaches its 50th anniversary in 2018, the considerable growth in the Hispanic/Latino population indicates a significant potential demand for Spanish-language permanent diaconate formation programs.

Statistics from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops indicate a 71 percent increase of the U.S. Catholic population since 1960 from the Hispanic community. Nationwide, 4,544 parishes (26 percent) specifically serve Hispanic/Latino communities.

Saint Meinrad has partnered with dioceses around the nation to provide intellectual formation of permanent deacon candidates in 19 dioceses, including more than 400 candidates. Immaculate Conception Seminary provides formation for permanent diaconate candidates in three northern New Jersey dioceses, with considerable Hispanic/Latino populations.

The collaboration of the two institutions will result in the production of an innovative Spanish-language curriculum by May 2018. They will develop Spanish-language resources, course syllabi, discussion questions, a bibliography, videos of lectures and basic course materials for facilitators for intellectual formation. Offered in DVD format, the program will include a 24-module curriculum.

The project will address the formation needs of Hispanic permanent deacons and enable local bishops to tailor the formation to the needs of each diocese, drawing on the diversity, culture, racial and ethnic richness of the Hispanic/Latino community.

"Without question, the need for an innovative and comprehensive program for Spanish-speaking deacons is apparent. More than 30 million Catholics in the United States today identify as Hispanic or Latino, and of that number nearly half are foreign-born," said Cardinal Tobin.

"Yet the number of Hispanic permanent deacons - only 16 percent of the total number of deacons in the Church today - is not sufficient to meet the needs of the laity in parishes, who are clamoring to learn about and deepen their faith through the guidance of ordained deacons and priests."