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Affirmation and Comunidad for Latino Catholic Youth: A Conversation with Hosffman Ospino and Elizabeth Tamez Méndez

In this conversation, practical theologian Hosffman Ospino [Boston College] talks with Elizabeth Tamez-Mendez about Latino Catholic youth who constitute the largest sector of the young Catholic population in the U.S. They reflect on how understanding the realities and experiences of this group will help parish and congregational leaders to build a church that is more dynamic and more inclusive in terms of culture and language.

Elizabeth Tamez Méndez [00:00:16] Welcome to this session on Imagining Multiple Models of Ministry with Youth. This is the series hosted by the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. I am Dr. Elizabeth Tamez Méndez, executive director of New Generation3 and longtime collaborator with CICW. Today, Dr. Hosffman Ospino out of Boston College is joining us for conversation. Dr. Ospino, thank you for being our guest. We're happy to have you here. 

Hosffman Ospino [00:00:42] Thank you very much, Elizabeth. It's a true pleasure to be in conversation with you about this important topic. 

Elizabeth Tamez Méndez [00:00:49] Thank you, and thank you for being here with us. In this series we want to learn from one another about community worship practices in different contexts, and especially those that encourage intergenerational relationships and empower youth. Hosffman, would you please share with us a bit about your context and your work so our viewers can get to know you better? 

Hosffman Ospino [00:01:11] Absolutely. I am a professor of practical theology and religious education at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, a Jesuit university in the city of Boston. I've been teaching here for about 15 years, and I actually did my doctoral studies here at Boston College in theology and education. I was born in Colombia South America, have lived most of my life in the United States of America, and part of my passion and commitment as an academic has been research on the Latino experience in the United States of America, particularly in the context of the Catholic community in determining, mapping how Latinos, Latinas are transforming the Roman Catholic experience in this country. 

Elizabeth Tamez Méndez [00:02:12] Thank you for the work you've done. That's something that I have admired and followed about you, that you have really been intentional about producing the research that our community needs. And so big congratulations to you on receiving the Richard Cardinal Cushing Medal of Advancement for Church Research. It’s such a high honor . . . for your trajectory and everything you have contributed to our community. So what an accomplishment. Congratulations on that.

Hosffman Ospino [00:02:40] Thank you. Thank you.

Elizabeth Tamez Méndez [00:02:40] And we are so excited then to learn more in today's conversation about your interdisciplinary approach to research between the social sciences and theological reflection because we know that these aspects of research and the different topics then can benefit our publications and the way that we do our work. We're intergenerational and for youth. As we frame the series, we have chosen five values for corporate worship and models of ministry with youth. And these are youth agency, spaces for theological questions, the role of the family, sparking intergenerational relationships, and designing multiple pathways for ministry with youth. And so, Hosffman, thinking about these five values, what insights and observations have you gathered through your research that can be helpful to those working with youth, families, and intergenerational connections in the church and community, especially for those seeking to reach and serve the Hispanic Latino community. 

Hosffman Ospino [00:03:42] Well, I mean, one could certainly have a couple of hours of conversation on each of these lenses that you just described, Elizabeth. But I think that perhaps the best way to begin is to place ourselves in context and, at least in terms of the Roman Catholic experience, to understand why we need to be paying attention and why the research on young Latinos is important. Just briefly, just as it is happening in many other denominations, Roman Catholicism is being profoundly reshaped, transformed by the Latino community, the Hispanic community. In the 1960s, for instance, about 10% of all Catholics in this country would self-identify as Latinos, maybe a good number of Black Catholics, and a very small number of Asians. But give or take, 90% of all Catholics in the US were white Euroamerican. Fast-forward to 2022 and we find ourselves with a church that is highly diverse. Latinos constitute about 43% of all Catholics in the United States. But most interestingly is that about 60% of all Catholics under the age of 18 are Hispanic. So when you start looking at the younger population, then immediately you see already not only the present but the future. And the vast majority of these Latinos/Latinas, young Latinos/Latinas are actually U.S. born. We know that they were born and are being raised in the United States of America. So we find ourselves in the context of a church that is struggling in many ways to, one, take all the energy that led it to build schools and parishes and organizations that served Roman Catholics that were of a different generation, of a different culture, and now adjust them to the needs of this younger population, largely Hispanic. That's where I come in with my research. 

Elizabeth Tamez Méndez [00:06:16] I think what you were saying about the demographics and the shift and the changes, we certainly have heard the same from other mainline denominations that they're starting to notice a shift and they're trying to understand where do we go next? So thank you for sharing that, because it's a common conversation nowadays, a bridge between the changing demographics. 

Hosffman Ospino [00:06:44] Yes. And the changes have been fast, if you think about it. In a couple of decades entire dioceses have been reshaped demographically and culturally. Parishes as well. So one of the questions that we need to start asking ourselves is, okay, are we serving the needs of Hispanic youth? Is the Catholic Church now stepping up to the plate and understanding the realities so it can serve young Latinos/Latinas? And the answer is yes and no. You know, so in some ways, we've got these old structures and old ministries that may be an effort attempting to meet the needs of the Latino community and others. But the truth is that these structures not always actually are flexible enough to serve bilingual or trilingual communities, are not responding to the needs of young Latinos who are growing up in homes that are led by parents or adults who are immigrants—some of them documented, some of them undocumented. And then these young women and men are negotiating their identities in a culture that is mostly English speaking, that is definitely pushing for some type of assimilation, although we need to start asking: assimilation into what? And one of the biggest challenges that we have right now with young Latinos and all growing up Catholic is defections. Millions of young Latinos who grow up Catholic are leaving the church and stop self-identifying as Roman Catholic. So what I'm learning through the research is, What is it that we need to figure out in our parishes, in our communities, and our organizations that needs to change in order to serve this population that is complex on the one hand but that is a bit impatient. . . . [They are waiting] for us to get our act together, you know, and take ten, twenty, thirty years to do that. They want to be accompanied. They want to be known, to be part of and belong to communities that understand their questions, their concerns, their ordeals, and also to affirm their hopes and their contributions. So I think that that's one of the challenges that we have, at least the Catholic Church. Through the research that I'm doing, I notice that we have a sense of what the Latino young community wants and needs, but we haven't done a full diagnosis. And this is where we need more researchers looking at the congregations and the organizations that are working with Hispanic youth. 

Elizabeth Tamez Méndez [00:10:09] Thank you for pointing that out, because we just had a conversation with another group and they were mentioning this. They wanted to know what is the state of youth and youth ministry in the Latino church. That is very complex, and I don’t really think we have an answer. I don't think we really have had the bandwidth and the researchers to go out there and really assess what is going on. We have an indication, certainly, those of us who have been doing research and practice. But yet I don't think we have a scope for the country or certain areas where we can really have a good picture of it because it's so diverse, so extremely diverse and complex. In that research that you've been doing, you are mentioning that youth have a tendency to say, “This is what we want; this is what we would like to see.” That starts to sound to me a bit in the lines of youth agency and how then the church could start listening to what they want. What have you seen in regards to that, and how some young people, what have they expressed about what they need in regards to agency and what have maybe perhaps you've seen some who are doing it or embodying it? 

Hosffman Ospino [00:11:28] Thank you for that question. Let me begin with the obvious, as Paulo Freire used to say, because sometimes that's what we miss. We need to start to recognize and to acknowledge the fact that when we speak about young people, we're speaking about energy and the desire to do things, to learn, to transform, to belong. You know, so there is this massive, massive level of energy in the millions of young Latinas/ Latinos who are part of our churches that frankly remains untapped. So that energy needs to be engaged, and it needs to be channeled in many ways. Give or take, we can say that in the United States of America, just to give you a sense, there are about 12 million young Latino/Latina Catholics under the age of 20. So these are young women and men— I'm not even counting here the young adults; this is just the youngest ones—and they are asking those questions and they want to be engaged and so on. However, they know what we see here is that this energy is not being matched by a church that is getting older and older and older. So those who are at the level of leadership, those who are running schools, universities, organizations, parishes, dioceses and so on actually are on the other side of the spectrum vis-à-vis age. Just to give you a sense, most leaders, ecclesial leaders in the Catholic Church, are white Euramerican. And the median age of white Euramericans in the United States of America is 55. And then we’ve got Latinos whose median age is 29. So in a sense, we have a leadership in the church that was trained and grew up and matured serving a different type of church. So there is a mismatch that we find right now. And one of the keys is going to be as we move forward—and this is something that I'm trying to track in my research—is we're going to need bridges, we're going to need gente puente. We're going to need the people who are going to bridge leadership with this community. And those bridges most likely are not going to come from the older side, but they are going to come from the young community.

So this agency that I'm seeing, . . . I've been to places when sometimes leaders tell me, “Well, young Latinos don't want to get engaged in the church. Young Latinos don't want to serve. Young Latinos are not interested in church realities, and that's why they don't come.” And the truth is, I disagree with that. As a matter of fact, young Latinos/Latinos, when we look beyond the Catholic Church, are highly engaged in all sorts of activities, service activities, political organizing, community organizing. They are engaged in sports. They are engaged in the arts. What's been happening is that in days old, churches used to be places that actually attracted young people to do all these things from a faith perspective. Churches created spaces for young people to do advocacy, to do arts, to do sports. But we are not providing those spaces any longer. So young Latinos do want to serve and do want to be engaged. But I would never place the blame for not coming to churches on themselves. I think as our structures are growing a little bit stale for our young Latinos. Many of our young people, as a matter of fact, in having the virtual world, the digital world in which they communicate, they connect, they participate, they engage. And yet many of our leaders don't even have Facebook or Twitter, or don't even know what TikTok is all about. So that age gap, that generational gap, is really affecting how we do youth ministry. And the last thing I would say in terms of agency is that, for instance, when I'm working with Latinas or at least what I'm seeing nationwide in the Catholic Church, I see that in Hispanic Catholic youth, they want to affirm their culture even though they are growing [up] in the United States of America. The vast majority are English speaking. They are being educated here. They are citizens of the United States of America and so on. They have not fully assimilated into an Anglo, mostly English-speaking world, but they still retain and value—and I think that that's the key—they value their bilinguality, or the fact that they're bilingual. They value the fact that they are bicultural. They value the experience, the religious and cultural experience of their parents. And I think that sometimes our church structures are poorly prepared to handle a community that is actually bilingual or bicultural or that wants to inhabit these two realities. So we need to start thinking of youth ministry in a much different way. We need to start going beyond the idea of homogeneity or monolingualism into a ministry that actually affirms all these traits that Latinos and others also have in our country. 

Elizabeth Tamez Méndez [00:18:00] And I think you pointed out something very important that young people are wanting to find these places to connect. They want to be active. In working on these aspects of youth and youth ministry, I'm always approached with the question “We're losing young people in our church. How do we retain them?” And I always present the other side of the question, particularly because my dissertation study pivoted from that perspective: What is it that is keeping them in the church? As if that was really the goal. But we see over and over again that definitely it's hard because it creates a whole paradigm shift in the way of conceiving ministerial structures. But those who have managed to start opening up and giving agency to youth to be able to participate, to be very active, and leaders who understand that their role is to learn, to be learning leaders, to walk alongside of them and scaffolding, mentoring. Fuller Youth Institute always talks about handing over the keys to this whole aspect that we're doing and to walk alongside of them. Because then they start giving us those answers that we're so hungry for and that we want to know: How can we become more relevant, and what is it that they're needing, or how can we attract them? Not necessarily that those will be the right questions, but if you want to start the questions there and then partnering with the young people in our context, they start to give us the answers; they start to show us. They're so hungry, like you said, for a place that gives them this ability, the agency that values their gifts and what they bring to the table and says, “Hey, let's walk together. Let’s do this together.” And I think I'm always pointing that out: How are we renovating ourselves as leaders and the church? And if the conversation is only among those same people of the same age group and there's not that intergenerational, intentional outreach, then we're failing to prepare the leaders who are going to take our place. I see a lot of prominent leaders are starting to retire. Who's going to take their place? We have not done a very good job of preparing the next generation of leaders. So thank you for pointing that out, because I know that it is hard sometimes, especially for congregations or denominations that are a little bit more structural and liturgical, to find intentional places to bring young people alongside and give them some of that freedom to voice themselves and to bring their ideas. We always see within the Latino community and the youth, many have experienced situations of segregation or being pushed aside because of who they are, and they may not be fitting in the majority culture, and how the church has been the place where they flourish because they finally find a place where here you can be at the center. You can exercise your leadership. But like you're pointing out, it's not a majority of organizations or ministries that have been able to create that . . . and stay away from the kind of neglect to young people. So thank you for that invitation, Dr. Ospino, to say how can we bring that up. Are there any other thoughts that you would like to also share about these intergenerational relationships, how you see the theological questions and the space for exploration that has come up in your research? 

Hosffman Ospino [00:22:06] I actually like that you asked me about this theological question, because definitely we need to ask ourselves more about this. But before I say something about it, as you were speaking, something that now comes to my mind and I hear on a regular basis now is that congregations constantly frame the question about youth ministry as “We are losing our young people. Young people are walking away from us.” And I think that we need to do a Copernican shift in terms of that assessment. I don't think that we're losing anyone in terms of people walking away or young people walking away. I think that if we start looking at it from the perspective of young people, we need to start saying [that] young people are losing congregations and spaces where they can actually come and discern. And they are looking for those spaces. That's why they gather in malls. That's why some of them actually end up as gang members. That's why many of them find groups outside of faith-based organizations to actually wrestle with this now. And sometimes schools are not providing this and churches are not providing this. So the traditional spaces that young people had to discern interpersonal dynamics and community dynamics and also to make meaning, those spaces are not measuring up to the needs of them. So they are the ones who are losing. And I think that they're searching for it; they're looking for it. And we as churches need to reclaim those spaces. We need to reclaim that identity of becoming the spaces that are open for young people to address questions related to their faith, to their sexuality, to their vocation, to their relationship with Christ. In another of the essential questions that guide the lives of young people and others.

Now, going back to your question on the theology: my goodness, this is a beautiful question, because I think that . . . When I am interviewing younger people and leaders who are working with Hispanic Catholic youth, I see two interrelated dynamics. On the one hand, I see an anthropological question, a set of anthropological questions that is constantly being asked, in the context of the Latino community. One of the biggest challenges that our young people have in our faith communities, but also in the larger society, is to understand who they are . . . in this society. I mean, being a young person in the United States of America is brutal, if you think about it, and being a young Hispanic or Latino/Latina person in this society even more. Why? Because this is a society that tends to label everyone. If you're an adolescent or you're a teenager, there is a set of expectations [about] you. If you are a young Latino/Latina, there is a set of expectations, positive and negative, about you. When you have to negotiate those expectations on the part of your own family, on the part of society, on the part of the church, on the part of the school, and any other group with which you belong, then we find ourselves before a major existential question, and many of our theologians in the Latino community and also in the Asian community that I have read have explored the question of being “in between,” that existential limbo in which many of our young people find themselves negotiating—I need to be a little bit of this, a little bit of that—and in the process being pulled. Young Latinos/Latinas in general find themselves in this existential reality that they are trying to know who they are in a society that wants to dictate what they should be without listening to what they want. So that anthropological question needs to be at the forefront of any youth ministry effort with young Latinos/Latinas. And I think that that anthropological question goes alongside—and again, I'm passionate about ecclesiology—I think that when we look at churches making the effort to serve young Latinos/Latinas, to engage them and to be spaces where they can actually discern their faith and their vocation and their understanding of how they relate to God and others, then the one question that emerges is, What type of church are we inviting our young women and men, our young Latinos/Latinas, to be? Because that's going to be key for all of us. Let's be honest, we all want to impose a particular type of ecclesiology or understanding of church, and it sometimes is the church that overrelies on the scriptures, sometimes is the church that overrelies on the sacraments. sometimes is the church that overrelies on personal experience or religious experience, or is the church that wants to have a balance of all these three? And how we belong to these churches, how we welcome people into these ecclesial experiences matters. Now combine that to the process of anthropological discernment in which young women and men, Latinos/Latinas, are engaged, and then we find ourselves in the midst of a complex reality that many pastors, unfortunately, and sometimes theologians—it seems to me that they feel that they don't have time to address. We want to sell prepackaged models of being church to young Latinos/Latinas. We want to sell prepackaged approaches to relationship with Christ and God. And these young people are not seeing themselves in there. So what we need—and I want to go back to the idea of spaces, because I think that these are the type of insights that I see coming coming up from my research—we need to start imagining spaces that have the patience, that have the willingness, the openness to invite young people to discern and ask questions and journey together. And again, if we don't do it, they will go somewhere else. But it's quite likely that they will not do it using faith values or engaging the scriptures, or engaging conversations and questions related to faith. So that's a profound theological question that we find here. This interrelation between anthropology and ecclesiology is going to be key to define whether many of these young women and men decide to stay in our churches. In the context of the Catholic church, I have to say that, unfortunately, we have lost more than 15 million young Latinos/Latinas, more than 15 million, in recent decades. Most of them made the decision to leave before the age of 24. When asked why did you leave the Catholic Church, the majority simply say they drifted away. They were not engaged. And they moved out. I think that we need to be definitely more intentional about how we engage this population. 

Elizabeth Tamez Méndez [00:30:59] Thank you for pointing that out, because I think we have that tendency to say it's the young people who are not identifying with us; it's almost like it's always their fault, the young ones who are becoming and who are discerning their aspects of of identity and belonging and purpose and and looking for safe spaces. Like you said, it's really the dialogue and the question that needs to be shifted to the other end. What is it that they're not finding with us? Because they're hungry for these spaces and they continue to look for them. And I think what you pointed out, because we're always encouraging at New Generation3 for leaders to become these contextual researchers. We understand that it's very hard; it takes a lot of work, and it's so much easier, like you said, to take a prepackaged answer and just try to implement it. But the contexts are becoming so much more complex that young people, some are being exposed to some things that others are not in a different part of the country. I always tell people, take those labels of Gen Z and millennial with a grain of salt because, if you start looking at the Latino population, that becomes even more complex. And then if you start looking at the area of the country or which generations of families are here, their needs, their questions, their ways of acting and interacting are very different, and they have so much access to information nowadays. I'm amazed at how they really perceive that watching a twenty-second video on Instagram or TikTok, that has already created an authority on the topic. So they just kind of follow that, and they're not seeing any other voices rising up within our congregations and our churches and our leadership to say, well, let me tell you the rest of the story. That's what you saw on Insta. That's what you saw on TikTok. But let me tell you the bigger conversation, It’s that whole paradigm shift in our congregations to say, This can be overwhelming. It can be discouraging for some to feel that they are so out of touch. But I think you are inviting people to say become this anthropologist that is researching your context. It gets to know people there. The young people, walk alongside of them, have conversations. If you skip one Bible study or one event but you take time to talk to them and have conversations, that is going to start creating this rich space to listen and hear. Sometimes you may even feel like it's a big pivot, and then when they come alongside of you and the two of you work, it’s not that big of a pivot. It just seemed like it was because we don't have the right tools or the right people walking alongside of us. But when young people come, they see everything so simple. They're like, Oh, that's easy! We can do that, we can implement that, we can bring this platform over. What? That was like this monumental hurdle for me, and you solved it in the matter of a day. . . . So the energy that they bring in, and thank you for pointing that out, because we're always challenging not only the Latino community and pastors and leaders or clergy, but the church at large is always telling them, That's the characteristic of our Latino community of young people. I point out to them that 20.7 million Latinos are under age 19, and 58.2% of Hispanics are under the age of 34 years old. I always tell them that 58% of your efforts and your time and your resources and your work and your leadership, reflect it toward young people. I think that's when they have to step back and say it's not matching the need. So thank you for this call to continue to look at our context. We know, we honor the work of the many leaders who are courageous and are saying, we want to be there with young people. We want to serve them. We're doing our best. And then I think today we're encouraged in hearing that the more you are intentional about creating spaces for youth agency, the more you are intentional about being that anthropological researcher who knows what's going on in your context, the more we become fluid and say, OK, there's going to be some things that I won't be able to do the same way anymore, but I want to continue to become that space that young people do find, that they're not losing the space or connection that will [help them] grow in discernment. Thank you for calling us into that in our work. I can't wait for us to continue our conversation about your research. I don't know if there's any other nugget of wisdom that you want to share with us. 

Hosffman Ospino [00:36:51] Well, there's so much that we can definitely talk about. I recently finished a study on the Catholic organizations serving Hispanic youth. So I spent about a year looking at twelve organizations nationwide and just trying to understand what makes them successful, what are some of the struggles. And they are all Catholic organizations. And what's interesting is that a lot of people are trying to find the magic bullet to this to serve Hispanics. So everybody says, what do I need to do to attract young Latinos to my church or to my group or to my organization? And some people would say, well, is it a Bible study, or is it better liturgies or maybe more dynamic liturgies? Is it the music? Is it the arts? Is it a younger priest? Is it a preacher? I mean, what is it? And the answer is all of the above, for goodness’ sake. Of course. Anything that you can do to invest in making your worship more vibrant and that creates spaces for young people and so on. But I think that the question—and again, I want to go back to the anthropological piece—any question about how to best serve Hispanics is not much about what the congregation has already there so people are going to come. We need to move beyond that idea that we are the McDonalds or that we are the supermarket in which we already have the products and people are going to come and buy the products that we have. We’ve got to kind of change our business model, if I could use that expression—or maybe let's use more accessible language. We need to shift our evangelization model and then understand the many realities that shape the lives of Latinos. I mean, a lot of people still to this day in our congregations assume that most Latinos are immigrants, for instance, and most people assume that most Latinos are Spanish speaking, or many people still assume that all Latinos are are struggling financially and are struggling in terms of their families or or living in at-risk situations. And the truth is that, again, it's all of the above. Yes, we are Latinos who are immigrants, but the vast majority are U.S. born. We’ve got the young Latinos who are struggling financially, but many are not. We get a lot of Latinos who are doing very well; they are going to college, they are becoming professionals. But we also have a lot of young Latinos who are struggling with addiction, violence, and abuse, and poverty, and so on. So I think that as we move forward in our models of ministry—and this is something that I discovered, one of the insights from the research that we're naming in the report that will be coming up in a few months—one of the ideas is that all these organizations, every organization working with Hispanic youth actually affirms the value of community. You cannot do youth ministry without creating communidad, without creating community. But what's fascinating is that community is defined in many different ways. For some communities, for some Latinos, they are looking for communities that allow them to feel that they belong. But other Latinos are actually looking for communities that help them to move to the next level, to move forward in their professional lives or as they find a partner, or as they discern a vocation. For others, community is about healing because their lives, unfortunately, are upside-down: they are suffering because of addictions or a bad decision that they made when they were younger, or unfortunately they had to live alone because their parents were deported. A million dynamics going on in their lives. And I think that that's what needs to happen in our congregations in many ways. We need to really take time to look around first before we go out with any project or program or exercise of youth ministry. What we need to do, literally, is understand who our young Latinos and Latinas are. We need to reach out first, understand them. And then as we understand them, then look at the inventory of the resources that we have for ministry. How do we read the scriptures with someone who is in X or Y situation? How do we celebrate worship with a group of young Latinos/Latinas who are doing this or that?

And the last thing that I want to share is not emerging from this research project, which is actually something that has been voiced in different settings as well: There is a temptation in the Catholic Church, and I would assume that it might be something that is experienced in other denominations as well. But in the Catholic Church, there is that temptation of, when you speak of youth ministry, the idea is to have only one youth ministry group in your parish or your congregation. Only one. And that usually tends to be that whoever is the predominant congregation or community, that's how the youth group is organized. But what I always share with pastors or youth ministry leaders is, well, there's nowhere either in the Scriptures or even in church documents that says that you only have to have one model of youth ministry. As a matter of fact, a parish, a congregation, should have at least forty or fifty youth groups! We should have youth groups for all the diverse number of people who are actually seeking an encounter with Christ to discern their faith and their vocation. So we need to be more versatile in our youth ministry, and we need to move beyond this idea of the one youth ministry, group, or program in our congregation, our parish, our community, and then move into more of a variety of models and experiences that will attract different types of young Latinos. Because, frankly, if we continue with the one-size-fits-all approach to youth ministry, then we are going to get the one type of person that we want to serve, and we're going to miss the boat, especially in a complex, diverse community like the Latino/Latina Hispanic community. 

Elizabeth Tamez Méndez [00:44:32] Thank you for pointing that out, because it resonates with the series of Imagining Multiple Models of Ministry [with Youth]. That's precisely the invitation, that we have to keep walking away from the one-size-fits-all, from thinking that we are able to give quick answers, or that there's only one way of approaching young people. I know we don't have time to talk about this case study, but it reminds me of St Patrick's in Chicago that their approach was precisely this. They did a lot of intergenerational groups, and there were more affinity groups depending on the social causes that they're interested in. And so then the older generations and the younger generations are working together, whether it be beautifying the community, whether it be working with young people who will need training on computer skills so that they can continue moving forward in their job opportunities or whether it be they just whatever was really more of the affinity of that group than one youth group who did one thing. It really became . . . they've curated this very interesting space where the whole congregation and the parish moves more in the essence of affinities and intergenerational connections versus the silo model of, here are the youth here, the adults here, and this is what they do. It's very interesting. I always look at that study of what this Catholic Church has been doing in Chicago and now they have people who—there was a church that was dying, and now they have people who don't mind commuting an hour or more just to get to church and participate in these aspects. So thank you, Hosffman, for this rich conversation of just opening our eyes for the many possibilities of what can come ahead and inviting us to have that courage to explore and to get to know our context. Certainly, as a sociologist, you are wired in that way, and I think the more we can teach those in ministry that type of assets and skills and way of perceiving the world to say, “Let me start by knowing what is happening here and how can that be then a reflection of what the people are telling me that they need from from us so that they continue to find places for connection.” So thank you, Hosffman, for this great conversation. I know that we could go on for hours. I really wish we could do more. 

Hosffman Ospino [00:47:16] Thank you very much, Elizabeth. It was a true pleasure. And I look forward to continuing the conversation with you and other leaders as well who are interested in these important matters. 

Elizabeth Tamez Méndez [00:47:29] Yes, thank you. And we look forward to the report when it comes out. And we just appreciate this engaging conversation. We want to thank our viewers as well for joining us in this session of Imagining Multiple Models of Ministry with Youth. We pray these conversations really inspire and encourage your efforts in reaching the next generation. We know it's not easy work, but that's why we're here together: to support one another with the resources we bring to the church. So please join us in the next video in the series and leave us a comment about this session. We really want to hear from you.