success stories

Posted May 19, 2004

Findings on U.S. Parishes Partnering
with Parishes in Latin America

For the full report on this study please contact CARA: Georgetown University, Washington, DC 20057-1203 and request “Partnerships of Solidarity with the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean by Mary L. Gautier and Paul Perl, Fall 2003

The USCCB Secretariat for the Church in Latin America has released the results of a CARA study on supportive relationships between Catholic parishes in the U.S. and Catholic parishes in Latin America and the Caribbean. Among the findings:

Parishes were asked how often, if ever, they provided each of nine types of support to their sister parishes. The most frequent types of support are intercessory prayers at Mass, letter writing, and providing food, clothing, and school supplies.

Visits are more commonly made by U.S. parishioners than by those from the sister parish. Slightly more than half of the pastors (53%) reported that no parishioners from the supported parish have visited them. By comparison, only one third (34%) report that none of their own parishioners have visited the supported parish.

Nine in ten parishes in partnerships of solidarity report the current partnership is the first they have had with a Latin American parish. Slightly more than half of the responding parishes initiated their partnership before 1996. Most partnerships were initiated by someone in the parish; in 59% of cases it was by a parish priest, 23% by the pastoral council, 4% by a lay ecclesial minister, 9% by a bishop, and 2% by a religious community.

Two-thirds of the surveyed parishes reported their diocese promotes these partnerships. Of these, 13% say it was the bishop who initiated their present partnership. Half of the parishes with partnerships of solidarity in Latin America and the Caribbean say their parish has worked with other groups that promote these partnerships.

When asked what information would be most helpful to sustaining the relationship with a sister parish in Latin America or the Caribbean, cited as “somewhat” or “very helpful” were data on the Catholic Church in that region or country (75%), missionary activities in that region or country (67%), how other parishes or dioceses support parishes in the area (66%) cultural similarities and difference between U.S. parishes and these sister parishes (66%), and other ways to support parishes in poor countries (61%).