December 23, 2016

Former Hispanic Ministry coordinator named director of Intercultural Ministry

By Natalie Hoefer

Oscar CastellanosOscar Castellanos, former archdiocesan Hispanic Ministry coordinator, assumed the role of director of the Office of Intercultural Ministry in November.

He sees the role as that of “facilitating an encounter, a faith experience, more than actually directing, … someone that is going to facilitate the encounters, the celebrations and especially the dialogue” among those of other cultures in the archdiocese, represented by the Asian/Pacific Islander, African-American, French-speaking and Hispanic ministries.

“It’s not just going to [a group] and helping them along—it’s empowering people and expanding that notion of who we are as a Church and not so much just cultures.”

Some of the new events he would like to implement include a Pentecost concert, an ethnic dinner gathering and an intercultural children’s Mass.

Castellanos, a member of Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish in Greenwood, sees intercultural ministry as vital to all Catholics, not just those of various ethnic backgrounds, “because as Catholics we believe that culture is the first way you hear the Gospel.

“Anyone who comes from a different background, we need to acknowledge and embrace that and support that. A lot of times we think it’s the tip of the iceberg, that the culture is just food, music, vestments and language.

“But really it’s what underneath that iceberg—values, notions of leadership, understanding the vision of the Church you were brought up in—those elements of culture that are really important.”

Castellanos hopes to help build a sense of “cultural competency” in the archdiocese.

“That’s something that both cultures need to do to come together before we can even pray together sometimes,” he says. “I think for the folks in the pews, it’s important to recognize that it doesn’t come by nature. There needs to be some type of sharing, some type of listening, before we can really approach the hot issues on the table, or even the easy ones.

“A lot of people think, ‘Oh, let’s do a bilingual Mass.’ People don’t realize that it’s very difficult to put together a good bilingual Mass. You have to have people that not only know liturgy, but also know about culture. How do we plan in a good way so that everyone has a good experience and not just a clash of cultures?”

Deacon Michael Braun, director of the Secretariat for Pastoral Ministries—the umbrella under which the Intercultural Ministry Office resides—says that since joining the archdiocese as coordinator of Hispanic Ministry about a year ago, “Oscar has demonstrated commitment to servant leadership in organizing ministries and programs for Hispanic/Latino communities.

“His compassion for peoples of all ethnicities shines through in his ministry to parishes who are striving to develop unity in diversity. His experience and competence working in these settings make him an excellent choice to serve as director of the Intercultural Ministries Office.” †

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