Hispanic liturgical ministers
gather at St. Rita Church
to attend InstitutoOCP

Father Michael Tobin, pastor of St. Rita Church, greeted Instituto participants before the opening prayer began. (Record Photo by Kayla Bennett)

More than 200 Hispanic and Latino liturgical ministers from three dioceses gathered June 25 at St. Rita Church on Preston Highway for the InstitutoOCP, a Spanish intensive on music and lay ministries.

The event was sponsored by the National Association of Pastoral Musicians (NPM), the Oregon Catholic Press and the Archdiocese of Louisville.

Dr. Karen Shadle, director of the Office of Worship for the Archdiocese of Louisville, explained that Instituto is “basically a pre-conference” to the NPM convention being held at the Galt House the week of June 27.

“This will gather all the Catholic liturgical musicians nationally,” she said. “They’re learning from the experts. … It’s good to be together to remind us why we do this.”

Father Michael Tobin, pastor of St. Rita and vicar for Hispanic Ministry, said Saturday’s event was the first held in Kentucky that has taken advantage of the resources offered by its three sponsors.

“With the Eucharistic congress meeting in 2024, we have a three-year lead to prepare,” he said. “We wanted to be one of the first events nationally to include the Hispanic community.”

Eva Gonzalez, director of Hispanic Ministry for the Archdiocese of Louisville, said the Instituto offered a “great formation opportunity especially in the area of liturgy” and that it’s especially timely as we’re in the midst of a Eucharistic revival.

She sees it as an opportunity for Hispanic and Latino parishioners to be formed in liturgical ministries, including music.

“We are part of the church. Let’s continue moving forward in developing vibrant churches,” she said.

Jaime Cortez, a Catholic composer, arranger and performer, gave the keynote talk during the InstitutoOCP June 25 at St. Rita Church. The Instituto was an all-Spanish intensive on the music and lay ministries of the church. (Record Photo by Kayla Bennett)

The event’s keynote speaker was Jaime Cortez, a composer, arranger and performer who serves as the director of liturgy and music at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Scottsdale, Ariz. His hour and 15 minute long presentation “was talking to the Latino music ministers in a post-Vatican II world,” he said. He split the talk into two aspects: one gave a brief history of the Vatican II Council and the other discussed future goals for Hispanic ministry in the broader church.

Some background information on the Second Vatican Council that Cortez discussed included three important documents — the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, the Roman Missal and Sing to the Lord: Music and Divine Worship. Cortez also discussed important people including Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI who initiated the council.

That segued into “certain things in the general instructions (that) have to do with details of the structure of the liturgy,” Cortez said. He highlighted specific details that involve musicians and “gave an example of what the instructions say about Communion time,” specifically and what “the song of Communion needs to do while Communion is happening” as an example of how important music ministry is and what details they need to pay attention to.

For the second part of his talk, Cortez discussed ideals, or “future things that we would like to see in our ministry as a Latino community,” he said. He mentioned several.

The first was for Hispanic ministry to be considered a “genuine, true, payable music ministry” in the church because he believes in many places it’s not taken seriously.

Estela Garcia-Lopez, left, and her husband Rodolfo Lopez led the opening prayer during InstitutoOCP at St. Rita Church June 25. Later in the day, Garcia-Lopez led a session called “Raise your voice to heaven: Vocal techniques for women” and Lopez led “Raise your voice to heaven: Vocal techniques for men.” (Record Photo by Kayla Bennett)

Not only does Cortez feel that it’s not taken seriously but to be taken seriously calls for “just pay, good education and good support from the leadership, financial and otherwise,” he explained.

The two other ideals Cortez discussed were better musical training and creating networking opportunities for Spanish music and lay ministers.

Brenda Noriega, the young adult programs coordinator for the Diocese of San Bernardino in California, led an Instituto skills session on “Liturgical ministries: Leading toward truth, beauty and goodness.”

In an interview before the event, she said her presentation would discuss the importance of how different liturgical ministries connect to each other.

“The celebration of the liturgy involves everyone present,” she said. “Not just the readers and Eucharistic ministers — every single person present is a minister. It takes internal and external consciousness for the greatest sacrament to take place. When we understand everyone’s an important member, we have to make opportunities for the Hispanic communities.”

If people can’t understand the Mass or the music, they can’t be fully engaged, Noriega said.

“They need to know they do matter,” she said. “Their language matters, their songs matter, their social concerns matter when it comes to the celebration of the Eucharist.”

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