August 9, 2013

Changes announced in Office of Multicultural Ministry

By Natalie Hoefer

After 17 years of serving part time as the first and only director of the archdiocese’s Office of Multicultural Ministry, Father Kenneth Taylor will be passing the reins to Franciscan Brother Moises Gutierrez.

Brother Moises, who is currently the archdiocese’s coordinator of Hispanic Ministry, will assume the new full-time Multicultural Ministry directorship on Aug. 15.

The Office of Multicultural Ministry has accomplished much under Father Taylor’s leadership since it was created in 1996 under then-Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein.

“The most obvious growth was in Hispanic ministry,” says Father Taylor. “At one point, Indiana was listed as the fifth fastest-growing state with Hispanic population. It really just hit us all of a sudden.”

Through the help of the Office of Multicultural Ministry, there are now 21 parishes in the archdiocese offering Hispanic ministry.

Progress in ministry to black Catholics was also a hallmark of the Office of Multicultural Ministry under Father Taylor’s leadership. (Related: Father Taylor and Sister Jannette elected to national leadership roles)

“The office gave us a structured way to move forward with black Catholic ministry,” he says. “The things we were able to do had a reflection on the national level, culminating last summer with the National Black Catholic Congress being held here in Indianapolis. It’s only held every five years.

“We’ve also had an African Catholic ministry for about 10 years. As a result of that, in September the National Association of African Catholics in the U.S. is holding their meeting here in Indianapolis.”

The Office of Multicultural Ministry has also reached out to other ethnicities—creating a Vietnamese Apostolate, establishing an annual St. Martin de Porres Mass for Hispanics and black Catholics, celebrating an annual Simbang Gabi in the Filipino tradition, and other events recognizing the cultural diversity among Catholics in the archdiocese.

As Brother Moises moves the ministry forward, Father Taylor says he sees the office being “in the position to reach out to more and more of our diverse groups and bringing into the archdiocese this wider range of Catholics.”

“I am so excited,” says Brother Moises. “This has been one of my dreams for years, to work and minister in a multicultural role.

“Good work has been done and is being done [in the ministry]—I’m just continuing those good things and exploring other ideas.”

The need to switch the position from part time to full time developed in response to the growth of Catholics of various cultures in the archdiocese.

“The demographics of the Church are changing. Now there is a huge diversity in the archdiocese,” Brother Moises explains. “We have Hispanics, Africans, African Americans, Burmese, Filipinos, Koreans, Vietnamese. We need a full-time director to serve them and explore different possibilities.”

Within the Office of Multicultural Ministry, a formal Black Catholic Ministry branch with its own coordinator will be formed to serve Catholics of African, African-American and Caribbean cultures. Franciscan Sister Jannette Pruitt, current project coordinator for the Office of Multicultural Ministry, will assume the role of coordinator for the Black Catholic Ministry.

Hispanic Ministry will continue as the Hispanic/Latino Ministry, with a search underway for a new coordinator to replace Brother Moises.

Brother Moises also envisions a third ministry for Asian/Pacific Islander Catholics in the archdiocese, including those of Korean, Vietnamese, Burmese and Indian cultures.

While Brother Moises has other goals, such as offering Hispanic spiritual directors in the archdiocese, he is open to new ideas.

“[St.] Francis was always asking God, ‘What do you want me to do?’ So I ask now, ‘God, what do you want me to do in this new position?’ But not just me—it’s about what does God want us to do as an office, as different ministries.”

As a native of Mexico and with a certificate, bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree ranging from education to intercultural relations, Brother Moises brings understanding, education and experience to the role.

More than that, he brings passion.

“The passion for diversity has been in me since the very beginning, the passion for ministry.”

He attributes much of that passion to being the youngest of 24 siblings.

“My mother used to tell us children, ‘You are like the fingers on my hand: they are all different, but if one of them is smashed, it affects and hurts all the others.’ That stayed with me. If a group hurts in the Church, it hurts us all the same. We need to look at how we can respond to that.” †

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