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The Diocese of Joliet Selected to Partner with Leadership Roundtable to Train Hispanic Leaders

The Diocese of Joliet Selected to Partner With Leadership Roundtable to Train Hispanic Leaders

After a nationwide search, the Leadership Roundtable — a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization that promotes best practices and accountability in the management, finances, communications, and human resources development of the Catholic Church in the U.S., including greater incorporation of the expertise of the laity — selected the Diocese of Joliet as a partner for an inaugural cohort of the organization’s Latino Pastoral Leaders Initiative (LPLI).

Leadership Roundtable will work closely with the diocese and its Hispanic Ethnic Ministries Office to begin training the first cohort of Hispanic/Latino Catholic leaders starting in January 2021.

The national advisory committee of the LPLI, along with Leadership Roundtable staff, reviewed applications submitted by dioceses across the nation and selected the Diocese of Joliet for its demonstrated commitment to listening to members of its Hispanic/Latino community and working collaboratively to foster leadership that recognizes and represents the community in decision-making structures.

“We were delighted with the quality and thoughtfulness of their application and their commitment to ongoing leadership development for Hispanic/Latino leaders in the diocese,” said Andrea Blanco, the LPLI’s program manager.

The diocese has been actively participating in a nationwide process, called the V Encuentro (the Fifth Encounter, in English), a four-year effort of ecclesial reflection and action that invites all Catholics in the U.S. to intense missionary activity, consultation, leadership development, and identification of best ministerial practices in the spirit of the New Evangelization. One of the fruits of that process was the need for the formation of Hispanic leaders, which the Office of Hispanic Ministry has responded with courses and workshops to form parish leaders and laity who serve Hispanics.

The LPLI is the next step for these Hispanic leaders.

“This is the formation we are unable to give them,” said Elisabeth Román, the diocesan director of the Office of Hispanic Ministry/Ethnic Ministries. “This is a diocesan-wide effort, and the impact and the benefits and the fruits will be diocesan-wide. These people are being formed so they can form others.”

Here’s what the LPLI will offer selected Hispanic leaders in the diocese: increased access to critical leadership development and pastoral management training; coaching; peer support; and pastoral mentors utilizing Leadership Roundtable’s proven integrated leadership development solutions, including Catholic Leadership 360 and Toolbox for Pastoral Management. The initiative seeks to positively impact Hispanic/Latino leaders and promote a new culture of coresponsible  leadership  to  better  serve the Church in the U.S.

In the past, this kind of training has only been available to Anglos, in English, Román said. But now, “It’s going to bring us into the mainstream,” she added.

Twenty-four people in the diocese have been selected as participants. They will be divided into three groups of eight pastoral leaders. Starting in 2021, each group will meet monthly in an online peer group coaching session for one year. In addition, each cohort will be assigned a coach to lead the session, which will last for 90 minutes.

William Becerra, associate director of the diocesan Hispanic Ministry/Ethnic Ministries Office, said the initiative’s impact will be helpful in making pastoral leaders understand and know how to design and implement a clear vision for their communities, along with learning how to navigate organizational structures that follow Church practices and becoming more confident in conflict resolution, fundraising, and advisory bodies.

“From a more holistic diocesan perspective,” Becerra said, “this initiative allows our diocese to foster a ministry leadership development culture in our diocesan Church. We need to empower more ministry leaders, particularly Latino young adults – the largest demographic group in our Church. But, more importantly, we need to do it together.”

Bishop Ron Hicks was pleased that the diocese was chosen.

“Leadership Roundtable believes it is critical that Catholic parishes and dioceses support Latino/a pastoral leaders to thrive in their vocations and, thus, support the well-being of the parishioners they serve,” Bishop Hicks said. “We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with Leadership Roundtable to provide this important formation.”

The Leadership Roundtable launched the LPLI with support from a $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. through its Thriving in Ministry initiative. With Thriving in Ministry, Lilly Endowment is encouraging various religious organizations across the nation to create or strengthen programs that help pastoral leaders build relationships with experienced colleagues and guide them through key leadership challenges in parish ministry. Lilly Endowment has provided nearly $70 million in grants to 78 organizations through Thriving in Ministry.

“The launch of the Latino Pastoral Leaders Initiative in the Diocese of Joliet is an important step forward for the formation of Hispanic/Latino leaders and for carrying out a top priority of the Church,” said Mar Munoz-Visoso, a member of the advisory committee for the LPLI, and serves as executive director of the Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.


Here are participants in the Latino Pastoral Leaders Initiative:

  • Elisabeth Román
  • Deacon Sergio Gonzalez
  • Alejandra Villa
  • Eloisa Garcia
  • Father Gregor Gorsic
  • José Cornelio
  • Manuela Botello
  • Yovani Valdivia
  • Father Burke Masters
  • Alejandro Quezada
  • Deacon Eduardo Murillo
  • Elizabeth Becerra
  • Father  Ramon Sida
  • Monica Harness
  • Yazmin Saldivar
  • Sandra Hernández
  • William Becerra
  • Claudia Molina
  • Deacon Arnulfo Cisneros
  • Father José Luis Torres
  • Father Santiago Corona
  • Laura Vargas
  • Rosalva Hurtado
  • Veronica Avila.