Bernardin lecture series to focus on the challenge of Latinos to the church

COLUMBIA — The growing Latino population, largely Catholic, and the challenges and opportunities it presents to the Catholic Church in the United States will be the subject of the annual Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Lecture on Oct. 22 at the University of South Carolina.
Ana Maria Diaz-Stevens, Ph.D., professor of church and society at Union Theological Seminary in New York, will speak at 7:30 p.m. in Belk Auditorium in the Moore School of Business. Her talk is on “Dissonance, Harmony, and Improvisation: The Challenge of Latinos to the Catholic Church.”
In a press release, Diaz-Stevens said the challenge for the U.S. Catholic Church begins with the understanding that meeting the needs of Latinos requires as varied an approach as the spectrum of cultural backgrounds they represent.
“I want the audience to be restless when they leave my lecture,” Diaz-Stevens said. “I want them to think over and over again about diversity, complexity and the youth of Hispanic people in the United States, as well as the gifts and promise they bring for the future of the Catholic Church.
“Hispanics want to feel welcome and appreciated for the traditions and gifts they bring. They bring a complexity and richness of history, culture, language and religiosity that far exceeds most common knowledge. It is our challenge as individuals and laity and the Catholic Church’s challenge as an institution to respond with knowledge and an understanding of the reality behind the perceptions of Latinos and Latinas.”
The annual lecture is sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences and its department of religious studies. It will include a panel discussion at 3 p.m. Oct. 23 in Lumpkin Auditorium on the eighth floor of the Moore School.
The panel discussion, “Who? What? And I Don’t Know!: A Survivor’s Guide to Latino Religion,” will feature Anthony Stevens-Arroyo, Ph.D., professor emeritus of Puerto Rican and Latino Studies at Brooklyn College and distinguished scholar of the City University of New York.
Other panelists include Diaz-Stevens; Elaine Lacy, Ph.D., researcher with the Consortium for Latino Immigration Studies at the University of South Carolina; Rev. Sonia Ortigoza, Hispanic congregational specialist with the S.C. Conference of the United Methodist Church and director of the S.C. Hispanic Leadership Council; and Brother Carlos Luis Parilla, director of Hispanic ministries for the Diocese of Charleston.
Diaz-Stevens is an expert on religion among Latinos. She is a founding member of the Program for the Analysis of Religion Among Latinos/Latinas and is actively involved in Catholic Common Ground Initiative and the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. She is associate editor of Macmillan Encyclopedia of Contemporary Religion and has written or co-written several books, including “Recognizing the Latino Resurgence in U.S. Religion: the Emmaus Paradigm.” She is working on a manuscript titled “Faith of Our Mothers: the Roots and Routes of Latina Ministry.”
Stevens-Arroyo is retired director of the Center for Study of Religion in Society and Culture and the Program for Studies of Religion at Brooklyn College. He is the author of nine books and writes an online blog about faith for the Newsweek/Washington Post Web site. He recently helped found the Northeast Latino Coalition to help meet the challenges of the growing Latino population there. Next month, he will be honored by Georgetown University with its CARA Award for life-long contributions to research on Catholicism.
The Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Lecture was inaugurated in 1999 to honor the Columbia native, former University of South Carolina student and distinguished leader in the Catholic Church as a priest and then archbishop of Chicago. The university is working to raise funds to establish the Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Chair in Ethical, Moral and Religious Studies.

For more information
about the lectureship, contact
Mardi McCabe at (803) 777-
4100 or, or visit