Building Bridges Between Cultures to Be Discussed at Symposium Presented by Catholic Extension, Loyola Marymount University

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Archdiocese of Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez to deliver keynote address

Sr. Emily Jocson greets community members in Penitas on the border near Brownsville, TX

Sr. Emily Jocson greets community members in Penitas on the border near Brownsville, TX

In his exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis spoke of people ‘handing on their faith in the language of their own culture,’ and we must continue the conversation on how best to do so in order to bring the light of Christ to all people.

In an effort to bring important topics within the Catholic Church to the forefront through experts and community leaders sharing their stories and best practices, Catholic Extension, a national organization that provides funding in 94 U.S. dioceses serving more than 13 million Catholics, is partnering with Loyola Marymount University School of Education to present, “Building Bridges through Intercultural Competency: A Symposium on the Future of Education and Ministry in the Church”. The symposium is the third in a series, following similar events at Boston College and Fordham University during the past year. The LMU event will feature two panel discussions on issues of diversity and intercultural competency – the practice of communicating effectively and appropriately with people of other cultures. Panelists will include experts and practitioners working in Catholic education and other ministries in Southern California and throughout the United States. The symposium will take place from 8:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, January 25, 2015, at Loyola Marymount University.

“We are honored to partner with the LMU School of Education to bring together these exceptional ministry leaders to share what promises to be very powerful stories that will shed light on the important topic of diversity within the Church,” said Catholic Extension President Rev. John J. Wall. “In his exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis spoke of people ‘handing on their faith in the language of their own culture,’ and we must continue the conversation on how best to do so in order to bring the light of Christ and the transformative power of faith to all people.”

The event will feature a keynote address delivered by Archbishop José H. Gomez of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, who will share insights and provide his unique perspective on the topic of diversity and intercultural competency. In 2010, Archbishop Gomez became the first Hispanic to serve as Archbishop of Los Angeles, as well as the highest-ranking Hispanic bishop in the United States.

The first panel – “Building Intercultural Competency and Diversity in the Church” – includes a distinguished roster of experts speaking on the importance of cultural diversity and the future of Catholic education and ministry in the Church.

The second panel entitled, “Women Religious Building Bridges Between Cultures,” features religious sisters sharing their stories, with particular emphasis on the role that nuns play in reaching out to and bonding with community members from different cultural backgrounds.
A complete list of panelists and event details is located on the event page of the LMU website at

Three of the panelists – Bishop Joseph J. Tyson from the Diocese of Yakima, Wash. (a member of the first panel), along with Sr. Emily Jocson, I.C.M., U.S. district Superior of the I.C.M. Missionary Sisters, and Sr. Fatima Santiago, I.C.M. – oversee programs funded by Catholic Extension in support of their work on the margins. Bishop Tyson created a migrant ministry in Yakima that brings church to the people by providing mass to workers in an area whose Catholic population reaches more than 100,000 during the harvest. These are people who, without this ministry, would be unable to attend church. Tyson has recruited seminarians to be amongst the migrants by helping with the ministry, transforming their lives as well as those they serve.

Sr. Jocson and Sr. Santiago represent the I.C.M. Missionary Sisters who, along with Sr. Carolyn Kosub, were recipients of the 2014 Lumen Christi Award, Catholic Extension’s highest national honor recognizing those whose work demonstrates how the power of faith can transform lives and communities. The I.C.M. Sisters built a church and Proyecto community center on the Texas border to minister to the thousands of immigrants whose lives have been impacted by the immigration crisis.

“In so many places the ministerial face of the Catholic Church is a woman religious,” said Fr. Wall. “Our hope is that by providing a platform for all of the experts with real-world experience to share their moving and compelling stories, others might be inspired to make a difference in communities throughout America.”

Shane P. Martin, Ph.D., Dean and Professor, LMU School of Education will moderate the event and provide opening remarks. “The mission of the Church is to fully embrace its diversity and to lead intercultural dialogue that will foster a deeper sense of community,” said Martin. “This symposium offers a tremendous opportunity to hear from key religious and lay leaders in Catholic education and other ministries working on these important issues and helping the Church build bridges between cultures.”

Catholic Extension, which has contributed more than $1.2 billion in today’s dollars to communities throughout the United States since 1905, hosts the series in conjunction with partnering Universities to present important topics impacting not only Catholics but people throughout society who might take away key lessons from these examples of people helping communities to build faith, inspire hope and ignite change where it’s needed most.

Although preregistration is required, the event is free and open to the public. For complete details and to register please visit the event page at Media wishing to attend should contact Lisa Gunggoll at lisa(at)lg-pr(dot)com.

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Editor’s Note: Panelist photos and background videos are available upon request.

About Catholic Extension: Catholic Extension is a papal society that has been supporting Catholics on the margins in America since 1905 and contributing to the growth of the Catholic faith by investing in people, infrastructure and ministries. Since its founding, Catholic Extension has distributed more than $1.2 billion in today’s dollars to dioceses that cannot support themselves. For more information visit

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