The other half’s vocation

Most Catholics younger than 18 have not discovered their vocation in life while most Catholics over 40 have.  So the group most likely to pray about the Lord’s call to a life-long commitment fall between the ages of 18 and 40 and in the United States, this group of Catholics is already half Hispanic!  But if you attend a vocation retreat or “Come and See Weekend,” you probably will not find that half of those attending are Hispanic.  Most vocation directors also are not Hispanic and few speak Spanish.  Except states like California and Texas, even youth rallies do not reflect the fact that half of US Catholic youth and young adults are Hispanic.  This is where Instituto Fe y Vida, which is solely dedicated to young Hispanics, plays an important role.

Founded in 1994, Instituto Fe y Vida is a national Catholic non-profit organization serving Hispanic youth and young adults in the Unites States through research, publications, and formation. Their goals sound very much like helping this growing group discern their vocation: Instituto Fe y Vida helps Hispanic youth and young adults to:

•    Mature as humans
•    Grow in their faith
•    Improve their education
•    Fulfill their mission to evangelize
•    Exercise leadership in Church and society
•    Build a society inspired by Gospel values

Their most famous publication, La Biblia Catolica Para Jovenes, has helped foster the faith of hundreds of thousands of young Hispanics. Their formation programs reach around the country and provide courses in Scripture, evangelization, and ministry that are tailored to the language, culture, and other needs of their recipients. Students can receive a certificate, and youth ministers get advanced training. Their research informs dioceses and parishes as well as other outreaches such as their own National Symposium.

Although the efforts of Instituto Fe y Vida are targeted to Hispanic youth and young adults, their effect is more than ethnic.  Their research (confirmed by other scholars) demonstrates that one cannot do Hispanic ministry in this country without including youth and young adults, but as well one cannot do youth ministry and still ignore half the youthful US Catholic population—the Hispanic half.  

This is my Silver Anniversary of priesthood as you can tell from the silver in my hair, and it has all been dedicated to Hispanics although I am just a white guy with no rhythm.  Where would I be without the help of Instituto Fe y Vida? Lost like a zebra in a striped suit! Anyone doing ministry with youth, anyone studying young Catholics in the USA, anyone helping people discern their vocation, anyone dedicated to the vitality and spirituality our own bishops have called a blessing, need the research, publications, and formation of Instituto Fe y Vida.  

Article by Father Kenneth G. Davis, Conventual Franciscan and spiritual director for Saint Joseph College Seminary in Louisiana.


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