COLUMBIA — Brother Carlos Luis Parrilla is leaving his position as manager of the Office of Hispanic Ministries for the Diocese of Charleston to serve as vocations director for his order, the Congregation of the Holy Cross, at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. He will also be director of the Bessette House of Discernment on the campus.
Brother Carlos will begin his work at Notre Dame on Aug. 12, living in the Bessette House and working with six or seven Notre Dame students who are considering a vocation as a religious brother.
He will also promote vocations at high schools and colleges around the Midwest, and said he will host discernment retreats at Notre Dame.
Brother Carlos came to South Carolina in mid-2006 after working as campus minister at a Catholic high school in Akron, Ohio, and as vocations director for the Midwest province of the Holy Cross Brothers. He grew up in Lorraine, Ohio, and took his vows in 1964.
“It’s been a thrill to work with Brother Carlos,” said Kathleen Merritt, director of the Office of Ethnic Ministries for the diocese. “I’ve especially liked his working demeanor. He always tackles things with a smile on his face and finds the humor in things, especially when a task seems hard.”
Merritt said she also appreciated Brother Carlos’ support of ministry to other ethnic communities, and the fact that he made an effort to regularly attend special events held by African-American and Vietnamese Catholics, among others. She said there will be a search to find an assistant for Father Filemon Juya, vicar for Hispanic ministry, who is based in Columbia.
Brother Carlos said he treasures the people he has met both in ministry and daily life.
“I’m going to miss the wonderful friends I’ve made down here in South Carolina, those friendships are precious,” he said. “I’m also going to miss the warm weather down here!”
He said he looks forward to being closer to family in Ohio and living in a communal setting again.
Brother Carlos worked with Hispanic inmates at Columbia’s Kirkland Correction Institute through a prison ministry program he started in 2006.
“I’m very proud of that program because these are the people who are most in need of attention from the church and the most neglected in society,” he said. He and volunteers visited the inmates each week to bring them the Eucharist, and offer Scripture study, prayer and spiritual discussion.
Brother Carlos regularly taught English as a Second Language classes, took part in a symposium on Hispanics and religion held at the University of South Carolina, and advocated for immigration reform on a visit with Sen. Lindsay Graham in Washington, D.C. He is also proud of the annual Hispanic celebrations he helped organize, and of his office’s outreach to Hispanic youth and young adults.
Brother Carlos said one of the biggest needs in the diocese is people who are willing and able to offer faith formation to the Hispanic community, and for more Hispanics to learn how to be instructors themselves. He said there also is a need for leadership development among Hispanics, especially as their numbers increase.
“The faith of the people has been very inspiring,” Brother Carlos said. “Many of the Hispanic people have a very basic and strong faith, and there is a hunger in a large part of the population to know their faith better. People want to know more, even though there are relatively few people to teach them.”