Mother of Good Counsel Parish, 6924 W. Lisbon Ave., Milwaukee, has another important reason to celebrate its 95th feast day, Monday, April 26, when it is formally recognized as a Hispanic Ministry Site.

Auxiliary Bishop James T. Schuerman and Fr. Javier Bustos will recognize the parish during a 7 p.m. bilingual Mass, followed by a COVID-friendly cupcake, pan dulce and hot chocolate to go. Each attendee will also receive a Mother of Good Counsel prayer card.

According to Fr. Reed Mungovan, when he came to the parish to serve as the assisting priest in 2016, there was no Hispanic ministry going on. As he worked with parish staff, they learned he was helping with Spanish Masses in the area and asked him if he would start one at Mother of Good Counsel.

“I said I was very open to it and we had our first Mass in Spanish in 2017 on Divine Mercy Sunday. There were about 50 to 70 people who attended that noon Mass,” he said. “After that, we had about 20 regulars who came to the noon Mass. After a year or so, I wasn’t sure if it was going to work out, but it kept growing. I became the pastor here in 2019 and before COVID, we had 200-300 every week. We have also recently began offering a Wednesday evening Mass at 7 p.m. in Spanish.”

Fr. Mungovan said he isn’t certain why they had the large increase in attendance, but he said he remained faithful to the noon Mass and the faithful kept coming. Additionally, while the Spanish Mass attendance increased, the number of children attending religious education also increased.

“Before we offered the Mass in Spanish, we had less than 10 Religious Ed students and then just before the COVID lockdowns, we had 60 kids attending,” he said.

With a third of the parish of Hispanic descent, Fr. Mungovan is happy to accommodate the Spanish-speaking members and is excited with the growth at the Masses. He also offers bilingual Masses for key feast days.

“It is good for us to be recognized as a Hispanic Ministry site and really helps us to collaborate with the other Hispanic Ministry sites, as well as other parishes in Milwaukee doing Hispanic ministry,” he said.

As Director of Intercultural Ministries for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Eva Diaz worked closely with Fr. Mungovan to achieve the formal recognition of the ministry with Spanish-Speaking Hispanic Catholics.

“Archbishop (Jerome E.) Listecki approved the ‘Guidelines for Hispanic Ministry in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee’ in 2014 after a wide process of consultation,” she said. “The document describes Hispanic Ministry as a ‘consistent, dynamic and committed effort of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee to bring Christ to Catholics of Hispanic origin within the 10 counties of this archdiocese … this policy responds to the multicultural and multilingual reality of the faithful of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.’”

Additionally, Diaz explained that the guidelines describe the nature of Hispanic Ministry as “a pastoral initiative that seeks integration, not assimilation, of Hispanic Catholics into the religious, cultural and social life of the parish and the Archdiocese.”

“The guidelines also elucidate the structure and leadership responsible for planning, executing and evaluating this important ministry,” she said. “A significant part of the guidelines refer to the proper establishment and termination of a Hispanic Ministry site in the Archdiocese.”

Reaction from the parishioners at Mother of Good Counsel have been very positive, said Fr. Mungovan.

“Parishioners, especially those here previously, recognize that to keep us going we need to be welcoming and to work together to build bridges in Christ. Our Pastoral Council takes this to heart and they strive to make all of our activities bilingual. For example, they want a chili and posole cook-off, rather than just a chili cook-off,” he said. “We are very excited be recognized a Hispanic Ministry Site and we are doing this for the beautiful people of Mother of Good Counsel — we are so happy people have found a home here. I just appreciate everyone who has helped make this happen.”

Fr. Reed Mungovan