Multicultural Young Adult Ministry: Five Things to Know!

Cassie Schutzer
Wednesday, May 24, 2023

On April 28-30, the Young Adult Initiative hosted our Spring 2023 Gathering – a semi-annual meeting of partner parish representatives at Saint Meinrad. Our presenter for the weekend was Katherine Angulo V., M.A., from the McGrath Institute at Notre Dame. She spoke to our group about multicultural parish and young adult ministry. 

Here are five key takeaways from Katherine’s presentation:

  1. Movement Toward Intercultural Parishes
    We are moving from multicultural parish ministry to intercultural parish ministry. “Multicultural” is the idea of a plurality of cultures existing within a parish as separate communities, while “Intercultural” is: “The reality of different cultures that interact and engage one another in a way that welcomes and

    respects the differences among them. Being intercultural is what we strive for as Catholics (universal), where our different cultures can work together to strengthen the whole Body of Christ.” –Katherine Angulo

  2. How Do We View Christ?

    One of the most helpful insights for our group was when Katherine showed that the general way in which we view Christ can vary between cultures, and this can teach us something about how we minister with our community. The example she used was the way the Anglo and Hispanic/Latino communities tend to see Jesus. The Anglo Catholic community has many representations of the resurrected Christ (“If I follow Him, I’m going to be okay. I will do my best to live as He asks.”). With this image of Jesus, the struggle becomes, “Why, if I’m a good person, do I have to suffer?” For Hispanic young adults, their vision of Christ is the crucified Christ (“If He suffered that much, He understands my pain, so I respect Him.”). With this image of Jesus, the challenge becomes self-esteem (“I am called to suffer, so I will suffer. Heaven is not for me.”). Now, as Katherine explained to the group, these are generalizations. But knowing how our different young people see and experience Jesus can help us accompany them on the journey of faith.

  3. The Church of 2050

    Katherine impressed on us the importance of giving our young people a vision of what they are invited into: a life of discipleship. In this way, we are helping build the Church of 2050.

  4. Arrows and Targets

    For many years, the conversations about ministry in the Church focused on “arrows,” or the exciting new programs that were being developed to reach out to young people. The Church has plenty of these programs, and the programs are good, but not every program will be successful in every parish. We need to move our focus from the arrows to the target. “Practice, practice, practice shooting at the target,” Katherine said. If we get to know the young adults we’re serving right now in our parishes, and keep the Church of 2050 in our sights, we can develop the right program that can grow with the young adults and help them become life-long disciples.

  5. Pillars of Success

    Katherine introduced our group to a research study from Boston College on “Catholic Organizations Serving Hispanic Youth.” The research team, led by Hosffman Ospino, PhD, identified 10 Pillars of Success in Ministry with Young Hispanic Catholics from the groups they studied. Katherine invited each of our parish groups to evaluate their own programs using these 10 pillars in order to see where the gaps are. By identifying our programs’ strengths and weaknesses, we can be more effective in our accompaniment of young people, regardless of their cultural background. See the linked study above for more information on each of these pillars (starting on page 35).

    1. Community

    2. Sense of Belonging

    3. Attention to Vulnerability

    4. Family

    5. Leadership

    6. Culture Matters

    7. Empowerment

    8. Catholic Identity

    9. Faith Formation

    10. Missionary Drive