Latino parishes waiting for new Catholic priests

With the departures of the Franciscan Friars from St. Anthony parish on Milwaukee's south side and Father Eleazar Perez from St. Adalbert, the Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee is searching for ways to meet the pastoral needs of the largest Latino parishes in the archdiocese, said Father Pat Heppe, the vicar of clergy.

In addition, there's another opening for a Spanish-speaking priest at St. Patrick's in Whitewater, where Father Rafael Rodriguez has been reassigned to the seminary, he said.

"It all comes together at the same time, so what we are trying to do is organize the placement of priests so there's not a domino effect," he said. "We are trying to look at what is best for the parish and the priest."

It also comes during a time when here, as across the nation, it's the growing Hispanic community that's filling many pews at Catholic churches.

"We need to be on top of that growth, and we need to make sure the Hispanic community is spiritually attended to," Heppe said.

And while speaking Spanish is important, Heppe said that when he met with parishioners at St. Adalbert, they emphasized that what's needed is "a priest who understands the Hispanic heart."

At a Mass Sunday to welcome him to the Hispanic community, newly installed Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki told an overflow crowd at St. Adalbert: "I know that you are waiting for a pastor, and I know that the Latino community is very important to this archdiocese." READ FULL STORY

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