December 16, 1998

By: Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick

"Con Mucho Carino"

There is a wonderful phrase in Spanish that probably conveys affection and caring, personal warmth and sincere good wishes better than any such expression in English. The phrase is "con mucho carino". It can be translated "with great affection", but these words really do not convey the total meaning of the phrase in Spanish. When it is used in its deepest sense, it expresses a commitment of friendship and sincerity on which the best of human relationships are built.

Last week in Union City, the Archdiocese of Newark inaugurated the Centro Guadalupe, as indeed you can read in the news section of this Catholic Advocate. It was truly an historic step in the life of our large Hispanic community. Years ago, under the far-sighted leadership of Bishop David Arias, an excellent pastoral plan for our Spanish-speaking Catholics was developed. This was a major commitment on the part of this local Church, and appropriately so, since today probably one out of every three Catholic people in the Archdiocese of Newark has his or her roots in the Hispanic community - and that number continues to grow each year.

Many of our Hispanic Catholics come from Puerto Rico, Cuba and Santo Domingo in large numbers as one would expect since these great Islands are close to the United States. Now their numbers have increased by families which have settled here from Colombia and Central America, Peru, Ecuador and most recently from Mexico. There is really no country in Latin America which is not represented here in the Archdiocese, together with a sizable community of our neighbors from Spain itself. This local Church has always welcomed the newcomer and their presence has always been not only a challenge but a great blessing and grace. As we embraced Irish and Italians, Poles and Portuguese, African Americans, Haitians and Asiatics, we have been enriched by their presence, their culture and their contribution to our life. In the same way we reach out to these brothers and sisters of ours who have come in such great numbers from South of the border.

Our gift to this important and growing part of our Archdiocesan family is this new apostolic and pastoral center in Hudson County, where leadership training and formation will be made available for the life of our Church in the coming century. It is a gift given "con much carino" in the deepest sense of that expression. I pray that together with the multiplicity of programs already present in parishes throughout the Archdiocese, this Centro Guadalupe will prepare the men and women of this community for leadership in the Church and in our society for the years ahead. Like any other community that has come to share our life and our faith, they bring great family and human values that must not be lost, but rather preserved and developed so that the entire Church of Newark can be enriched by them. I pray too that Hispanic vocations to the priesthood and religious life will develop rapidly as families become more conscious of their own ownership of the life of our Church.

This is my hope and this is one of the foundation stones for the future on which we must build together. As I dedicated our new Center I was thinking of all of you, "con mucho carino."

"Thinking of You" 1998 article index