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Members of St. Gall Parish in Chicago sing during the opening Mass of the Catholic Association of Latino Leaders annual conference in Chicago in this 2016 photo. The Leadership Roundtable announced an inaugural Latino Pastoral Leaders Initiative Aug. 31, 2020. (CNS photo/Karen Callaway, Catholic New World)

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Diocese of Joliet, Illinois, will partner with the nonprofit Leadership Roundtable to train Latino leaders to serve the church in the United States through its new Latino Pastoral Leaders Initiative.

The nonprofit announced Aug. 31 it had chosen the Diocese of Joliet to begin working with a group of Latino Catholic leaders in January 2021 to offer leadership training, pastoral management training, coaching, peer support and pastoral mentors.

Bishop Ronald A. Hicks, an auxiliary bishop of Chicago who has been appointed to the Joliet Diocese and will be installed as its leader Sept. 29, said the training provided by the group is critical to Catholic parishes and dioceses. He said it will help them support Latino pastoral leaders "to thrive in their vocations and, thus, support the well-being of the parishioners they serve."

"We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with Leadership Roundtable to provide this important formation," he added.

Leadership Roundtable describes itself as an organization that "promotes best practices and accountability in the management, finances, communications and human resources development of the Catholic Church in the U.S., including greater incorporation of the expertise of the laity."

Though various dioceses from around the country applied for this partnership, the group said in a press release that it selected the Diocese of Joliet "for its demonstrated commitment to listening to members of its Hispanic/Latino community and working collaboratively to foster leadership that recognizes and represents the community in decision-making structures." On its webpage, the diocese's Office of Hispanic and Ethnic Ministry said "in the near future, over 30% of the members of the local church will be Hispanic (or of Hispanic origin)."

"We appreciate that even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Diocese of Joliet saw the powerful impact that this initiative will have for Hispanic/Latino Leaders," said Andrea Blanco, program manager of the Latino Pastoral Leaders Initiative. "We were delighted with the quality and thoughtfulness of their application and their commitment to ongoing leadership development for Hispanic/Latino leaders in the diocese."

Bishop Richard E. Pates, apostolic administrator of the diocese, said the training will provide the diocese with "a great opportunity to continue developing and enhancing the leadership skills of priests, religious, and lay leaders within the Hispanic community."

Leadership Roundtable said it launched its Latino Pastoral Leaders Initiative with support from a $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.

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