Program fosters leadership among Hispanic, Latino parishioners

A group of women built a structure using toothpicks and marshmallows during the final session of a leadership program at the Caspar Center on the campus of St. Rita Church April 22. “Leading Like Jesus” was offered by the Archdiocese of Louisville’s Office of Hispanic Ministry. (Record Photo by Ruby Thomas)

A four-part leadership program called “Leading Like Jesus” aims to help Hispanic and Latino parishioners see themselves as leaders.

The program, offered by the Archdiocese of Louisville’s Office of Hispanic Ministry, drew about 60 adult and young adult parishioners. It started in January and wrapped up with a final session April 22 at the Caspar Center on the campus of St. Rita Church on Preston Highway.

“Leading Like Jesus” examined the way Jesus lived as a “servant, steward and shepherd,” said Eva Gonzalez, director of the Office of Hispanic Ministry. The program aimed to help Hispanic and Latino Catholics follow his example.

“Some don’t see themselves as leaders,” Gonzalez said. Yet, she explained, “Everyone is a leader at some point in their life. You apply leadership at home. 

“It was eye-opening for them,” she said. “They understood they’d been leaders at some point in their lives.”

Before taking part in the program, Martha Sanchez said, she didn’t see herself as a leader.

“I have difficulty calling myself a leader because of the references of what a leader is in the secular world,” said Sanchez, who attends Mass at St. Rita Church. “This (program) gave me insight as to what leadership through Christ is.”

Martha Sanchez strung marshmallows onto toothpicks during an activity April 22 at the Caspar Center on the campus of St. Rita Church on Preston Highway. (Photo by Ruby Thomas)

While leadership in the secular world is more centered on the individual, she said, leading like Jesus is “self-giving.” 

“This role as a leader through Christ is different because you’re more understanding, more compassionate. It’s not about setting rules” for others to follow, said Sanchez. 

While “Leading Like Jesus” offered Christ as the inspiration and example for leadership, it also offered participants tangible suggestions for effective leadership. For starters, they learned that leading like Jesus involves using not only their hearts, but also their hands and heads.

“It’s not just about having a heart filled with good intentions, but also to have the knowledge. We need to be formed and you need to take action,” said Gonzalez.

Among other lessons the program offered are:

  • The importance of envisioning where you are headed.
  • The importance of relating to others — being patient, meeting individuals where they are and helping them on their journey. 

“It’s where humility comes into play,” said Gonzalez. “By being this way, people will all feel they have a part in the mission.”

  • The importance of cultivating good habits, such as praying and taking time for oneself. 
A group of young adults built a structure using toothpicks and marshmallows during the final session of a leadership program at the Caspar Center on the campus of St. Rita Church April 22. “Leading Like Jesus” was offered by the Archdiocese of Louisville’s Office of Hispanic Ministry. (Record Photo by Ruby Thomas)

During the course of the program, participants also reflected on Scripture and took part in small group discussions. At the final session April 22, they participated in a group activity using toothpicks and marshmallows to create a structure of their choosing. 

Gonzalez said the activity helped bring together what they’d learned — creating a vision, using knowledge and collaboration.

Sanchez said she believes what she gained during the program will guide her in her faith journey and in her home and work life. 

“It bleeds into everything naturally because the focus is Christ,” she said.

Another leadership program is set for January 2024, when participants will learn about leadership from the perspective of Pope Francis, said Gonzalez.

Ruby Thomas
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Ruby Thomas
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