Posted November 14, 2005
Taken from the Instituto Fe y Vida’s Resource Center report:
Youth Ministry and the Socioreligious Lives of White and Hispanic Catholic Teens in the
as reported in the CARA Report Vol. 11, No.2 Fall 2005.
information contact CARA CARA@georgetown.edu
One of NSYR’s goals was to identify how the religious interests, concerns,
and practices of American youth vary between people of different races,
ages, social classes, and between boys and girls.
The majority of Hispanic and white Catholic adolescents live at opposite
ends of the economic, social, and educational spectrum. This fact reinforces
the need for a differentiated pastoral ministry, even with the Hispanic
teens who speak English. It cannot be assumed that programs and approaches
that work for white Catholic teens will work for Hispanic Catholic teens and
Although Hispanic and white Catholic youths shared remarkably similar
educational goals, the actual educational attainment of Hispanic teens and
young adults falls considerably short of the education attained by their
white peers. Nevertheless, young Hispanics in the United States are quickly
becoming more educated than their parents.
Young Hispanic and white Catholics reported very similar religious beliefs
when it comes to certain basic Christian teachings. However, Hispanics
reported more frequent experiences of personal and family religious
practices, while the white teens were more likely to participate in parish
and Catholic school-based religious programs and activities.
About 73 percent of both white and Hispanic Catholic adolescents have
received their First Communion, but many fewer in both groups have been
confirmed. The Spanish-dominant Hispanic respondents, most of whom are
immigrants to the United States, were just as likely as the white
respondents to be confirmed (47 percent). But the English-dominant Hispanic
respondents, typically born in the United States, were much likely to have
been confirmed (28 percent)
White and Hispanic adolescents participating in their parish youth groups
generally scored higher on measures of educational attitudes, religious
practices, family well-being, and avoiding at-risk behaviors than their
respective non-participating peers.
Nationwide, about 30 percent of white Catholic adolescents were involved in
their parish youth group, with the exception of youth from the Northeast,
where only 12 percent were participating. At the same time, Hispanic teens
participating in parish youth and young and groups (in either English or
Spanish) ranged about 10 percent in the West to almost 17 percent in the
South. About 20 to 25 percent of the Hispanic teens participating in parish
youth groups belong to groups that meet in Spanish (pastoral juvenil).
For both white and Hispanic adolescents, attending a parish with a paid
youth minister increased the likelihood of their participation by a large
margin (75 percent for white, 150 percent for Hispanic teens) compared to
teens in parishes with a volunteer or no youth minister.
There are a large number of “culturally squeezed” young Hispanic Catholics
who are not being served in Catholic youth ministry programs because they do
not fit in either the high school youth group that currently serves mostly
the upper middle class teens of the dominant culture, or the pastoral
juvenil approach that is serving older teens and young adults in Spanish.
The data here raise the very important question: What more needs to be done
to find/educate teachers capable of relating to the Hispanic youth? Is
there need to cultivate a new type of teacher/social worker who is a
specialist in reaching youth of another culture? In the past, we had CYO
athletic programs and similar parish/neighbor programs that attracted youth
and got them off the streets. What new, creative programs are needed to
attract a youth that is bombarded with distractions that move away from the
parish and parish programs?