EPHRAIM — The Catholic Migrant Farmworker Network came to the Diocese of Salt Lake City to support and further educate Hispanic leaders in the diocese.
Father Tomas W. Florek arrived in Utah to be present in two different missions of the Diocese of Salt Lake City: Saint John Bosco in Delta and Saint Jude in Ephraim.
In Ephraim more than 20 people gathered to share their thoughts and to learn more about this ministry sponsored by the diocese’s Office of Hispanic Ministries.
Fr. Tom stressed the importance of helping the laity increase their faith and their leadership.
"The laypeople have formed a great part of our church," said Fr. Tom, adding that the laity’s role will increase because the Church doesn’t have as many priests as before, and the Catholic Church keeps growing, particularly the Hispanic Catholic community. Only 10 percent of Hispanics in the Catholic community are involved in the leadership, "so we are in a changing time," he said. "We are here to recognize that the leaders are here, and we want them to have access to all the tools that will help them. So this is to help them, to be with them, not to make them leaders, because they are already."
Participating in Fr. Tom’s presentations was very important for Ignacio Serrano, who traveled from Moroni exclusively to take part.
"This program is important because I like to know more about our Church and about our community," said Serrano.
Fr. Tom referred to a 1983 letter from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops regarding the First National Encounter for Hispanic Youth and Young Adult Ministry.
This group of Hispanic Catholics told the bishops that they wanted to celebrate the liturgy with their own community; they wanted their priests to speak Spanish so they could raise their children with the language so they could integrate into rather than fuse with American culture.
"This was a very revolutionary comment," said Fr. Tom.
"It is important that we share all this," said Armando Cruz, a Saint Jude parishioner who also attended the program. "I like this very much."
The Catholic Migrant Farmworker Network, of which Fr. Tom is a member, began more than 25 years ago with a priest in Toledo, Ohio to serve migrants working in agriculture throughout the United States. Its purpose is to provide spiritual development for farmworkers and rural immigrants as they move from state to state, and to raise awareness of their working conditions.
"We are the people of God in 2012, and we are happy that the Catholic Hispanics get involved and participate and have more opportunities and can share their culture with the Church that is theirs, that we can hear the voice of the Hispanic presence," said Fr. Tom.