Many Latinos in the United States are left behind in education, economic life, and political life. Educational attainment among Latinos lags behind national averages for high school completion, college education, and other important educational benchmarks. For many, the decision to complete high school and continue to postsecondary education can be socially discouraged, financially difficult, or legally impossible. Many economic measures–unemployment, poverty, income, housing–also reflect these disparities. National policies and politics, major institutions, and anti-immigrant attitudes often undermine progress and hold back the leadership and participation of Latinos in American society.
With an expansive network of high schools, colleges, and universities, along with extensive ministry programs for youth and young adults, the Catholic Church in the United States is uniquely positioned to address these challenges and respond holistically to Latinos’ social, economic, and pastoral needs. Nearly half of all U.S. Catholics are Latino, including more than 60% of Catholics under the age of 18. Yet far too few Latino Catholic children attend Catholic elementary schools, high schools, or universities.
Three remarkable leaders explored questions such as: How can U.S. policies address these disparities and the ways they hold back Latinos and diminish all of society? What needs to change? How can the Catholic community, with its institutional, pastoral, and social resources, respond to these realities? How can young Latinos who have broken barriers in their own lives, education, and work help those who come behind them?
This gathering had three parts:
6:00 - 7:00 p.m. | Welcoming Happy Hour
Meet and network with other young Latinos over food and drink
7:00 - 8:00 p.m. | Latino Leader Gathering
A dialogue and conversation on “Breaking Barriers: Latinos and Education, Economic Mobility, and the Catholic Church” with three leaders
8:00 - 9:00 p.m. | Reception
Continue the conversation over food and drink
Christian Soenen, project manager of the Initiative, moderated the conversation.
This Latino Leader Gathering was for young Latino Catholics and others to explore key issues and personal stories involving faith and public life with distinguished Latinos and other leaders.
View articles, podcasts, and other resources for this dialogue.