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Hispanics are a growing percentage of the population, and Bishop Alfred Schlert has created a new position to lead efforts to make Hispanic Catholics feel welcome in Diocese of Allentown parishes.
Ana Hidalgo, who has more than 30 years of experience in Hispanic ministry in Central America, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and the United States, is the new Bishop’s Delegate to the Hispanic Community.
“Ana will assist me in understanding and addressing the many and varying spiritual and social needs of Hispanics in our communities,” Bishop Schlert said. “Our goal is to welcome this growing part of our Catholic population while preserving important aspects of their cultural heritage.”
The five counties of the Diocese are home to people with ties to many Hispanic countries, including the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, and Colombia. Each year, more and more people arrive, and many are practicing Catholics.
Hidalgo was born in Costa Rica and is the youngest of 17 siblings. She earned a master’s degree in Theology and Christian Ministry, and also earned her bachelor’s degree, at the Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio.
She did a post-graduate concentration in Hispanic Ministry at Boston College, has studied at the Theology of the Body Institute, and has completed a program on Hispanic Leadership at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
In her most-recent position, she was Director of Hispanic Ministry at the Basilica of St. Peter in Columbia, S.C.
“First on my agenda is to listen and to learn,” said Hidalgo in an interview during her first weeks on the job. She is starting by meeting with pastors of Hispanic parishes, and will work closely with them during her ministry.
“With the Hispanic community, it is relationships first, and business second.” Hidalgo said. “I will concentrate first on building relationships with Hispanics throughout the Diocese.”
She will report to Monsignor Thomas Orsulak and Father Andrew Gehringer. Monsignor Orsulak is the Priest Coordinator of Hispanic Ministry for Berks, Carbon, and Schuylkill counties, and Father Gehringer is the Priest Coordinator of Hispanic Ministry for Lehigh and Northampton counties.