Hispanic-Latino roots run deep within the Diocese of Fort Worth: Part 4

by Jerry Circelli

North Texas Catholic

Father JassoFather Jasso
Fr. Esteban Jasso is greeted by young matachines from All Saints Catholic School at a reception celebrating his retirement as pastor of All Saints Catholic Church, on Dec. 15, 2017 in Fort Worth. (NTC photo/Ben Torres)

Part 4: The Future

Current progress will continue into the future

The progress being made today at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Wichita Falls and elsewhere around the diocese in Hispanic ministry was detailed in a January 2018 interview with Father Stephen Jasso, TOR, then pastor of All Saints Parish in Fort Worth.

Father Jasso said when he first came to the parish more than a quarter century ago, Hispanic Catholics in the diocese were concentrated mainly on the north and south sides of Fort Worth.

“Today, they are everywhere,” Fr. Jasso said, illustrating his point about the growing Catholic population with a demographics map.

A veteran of the Korean War, Fr. Jasso has been a priest for 55 years, including 24 years in Mexico City and four years in Peru before coming to Fort Worth. Prior to his recent retirement, he was involved in multiple civic boards and organizations.

The presence of the Hispanic Catholics over the years, he said, has not only strengthened the Diocese of Fort Worth but also has given renewed vitality to communities throughout the Metroplex.

“I learned about the Ministry of Presence from Pope Francis,” Fr. Jasso said. “Wherever you are, whether you are a Catholic priest, a Catholic layman, part of a Catholic family, wherever you are, your presence is the evangelization of others.

enjoying the music of EncuentroParticipant in Encuentro enjoys the music
A participant of Encuentro enjoys the music. (NTC/Jayme Shedenhelm)

“My presence, in working in the city on so many committees, has enriched my faith. I have learned from them and they have learned from me.”

In August 2018, Father Jasso was welcomed by the Fort Worth City Council and Mayor Betsy Price and given a proclamation declaring “Father Jasso Day.”

His ministry of presence is a testament to the value of Hispanic ministry in the Diocese of Fort Worth and all of North Texas.

As for the future, statistics show that Christ’s Church in North Texas will continue to grow. According to Catholic News Agency, the Hispanic Catholic population in the United States is particularly large among youth and young adults, comprising the biggest percentage of Hispanic Catholics in the nation. According to the news service, 50 percent of Catholics in the United States ages 14 to 29 are Hispanic.  Also, 55 percent of the nation’s Catholics under age 14 are Hispanic.

“The young Hispanics are those who will take up the cross, who will continue to profess the faith in the future, said Francisco Joel Rodriguez, director of Hispanic Ministry for the Diocese of Fort Worth. “They are the Church and the Church is Christ.”

Rodriguez added, “The disciples who are being created now, today, are the ones who will continue to carry the cross of Christ and continue the perpetuity of the Church.”

For the past four years, Rodriquez has been director of the Hispanic Ministry, whose goal is “to welcome and promote the cultural identity of the faces of our local Church, and to build a deeply Catholic and multicultural identity” through a collaborative effort involving the bishop, pastors, and the community.

Rodriquez said that the 2018 V Encuentro convocation showed the progress being made in ministering to Hispanic Catholics as they strengthen Christ’s Church, not only in the Diocese of Fort Worth but also in dioceses across the nation.

The first Encuentro convocation, held in 1972 in Baltimore, has given rise to renewed energy in the Hispanic community as they strive to serve Christ. The message in that first gathering, Rodriguez said, entailed the question posed by the Church to Hispanics: “What do you need?”

Now, he said, it has evolved into the Hispanic Catholic population asking, “How can we serve?”

“Without any ethnic divide, we are all children of Christ and we are all created in His image,” Rodriguez said. “We all carry the dignity that God Himself has instilled in each and every human being.

“Being that we are immigrants into a country of immigrants of Latino descendants, the contributions that we bring are the availability and the desire to serve our Church. There is a huge desire to serve, to help in any way we can.

“We see it in the increasing number of immigrants who are attending catechetical classes, seeking and searching for information about the diocese and about their parishes, and most of all saying and asking: ‘How can we help?’”

For more information about Hispanic Ministry in the Diocese of Fort Worth, including apostolates and a calendar of upcoming events, visit: fwdioc.org/hispanic-ministry


Previous: Part 3: Dynamic Population

Fr. Jasso

The progress being made today at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Wichita Falls and elsewhere around the diocese in Hispanic ministry was detailed in a January 2018 interview with Father Stephen Jasso, TOR, then pastor of All Saints Parish in Fort Worth.