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Diocese names new director of Hispanic Ministry

By RENEE WEBB, Globe editor
(Email Renee)

After nearly eight years, the Diocese of Sioux City will once again have a full-time director of Hispanic Ministry.

Ana Hidalgo, a native of Costa Rico, has been hired for this position and will begin her work in the diocese on April 16.

“This is a great opportunity to serve more extensively – to expand whatever God has given me to many others,” she said. “This is a beautiful opportunity to challenge myself to see what God can do through me.”

While the position will be a challenge, Hidalgo believes it will be a gift.

“I feel this is the place where I can give my most to others – not this specific place but Hispanic ministry. I fully believe this is God’s will - leading me wherever he thinks I should be.”

The youngest of 17 children, she came to the United States in 1997 for mission work. Prior to that she had been involved in missionary work in Guatemala, Mexico and other countries and she had participated in some short mission trips in countries such as Panama and Nicaragua.

Upon moving to this country, Hidalgo continued her mission work.

In 2000, she took a year of classes at the Catholic University in Washington, DC, earning a certificate in Hispanic Leadership in 2001.

From there she continued her mission efforts, focusing in the areas of social and religious work. She helped take care of elderly people, children and AIDS patients. Hidalgo also worked in pastoral ministry in various capacities, mainly ministering to Hispanic communities. For instance, she served as a CRE (coordinator of religious education), directed numerous groups in parishes such as liturgy committees, made pastoral visits and more.

Since 1997, she has worked in several parts of the country from San Francisco to Puerto Rico, Washington DC and Pennsylvania.

In 2008, Hidalgo opted to go for more education and she transferred her college credits to the Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. There, she first earned an associate’s degree and then went on to receive a bachelor’s and then master’s degree in theology and Christian ministry. She has spent the last four years studying in Steubenville. Hidalgo also holds a certificate in Theology of the Body.

As a student in Steubenville, she was involved in Latinos for Christ.

Hispanic ministry, she noted, “is where God has always led me.”

Once her work begins in the diocese, Hidalgo hopes to visit the parishes with Hispanic ministries to meet the parishioners and get to know their needs.

“I would like to meet with the pastors, especially in the areas where there is already Hispanic activity – to see what their concerns are and see what they advise, always taking into account the experience of the place,” said Hidalgo, who added that she will seek the advice of Father Doug Klein who has most recently served as diocesan director of Hispanic Ministry.

She plans to attend the Spanish Masses that are held in the various parts of the diocese to not only meet the people but “also to receive the life the Holy Spirit as I am there – to see what the Holy Spirit is telling me.”

Through these visits, this will help her come to know the gifts of each community and their needs.

The Diocese of Sioux City began a search for a new director of Hispanic Ministry after it formed a partnership with the Catholic Extension Society that will pay about 50 percent of the cost of this position for the next three years. That organization provides funding to under-resourced parishes and dioceses through programs and services investing in people, infrastructure and ministries. They estimate that Hispanics make up nearly 40 percent of U.S. Catholics.

In the last eight years, the Diocese of Sioux City has had priest interim directors of this ministry, but they have all had other parish assignments and were not assigned to this position in a full-time capacity.

“As I prepare, I am asking God for grace to accomplish what he wants me to do,” said Hidalgo, who added that she is very grateful for this opportunity although she knows there will be challenges. “I will do my best to serve God in the best way possible.”

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