P4MariaPrado1-pho-20100813-mabMaria Prado (Photo by Mark Barthel)Nearly 25 million Hispanics are among the 65 million Catholics scattered across the United States, according to a 2002 study conducted by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. In an effort to meet the needs of Hispanics living within the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Maria Prado has been hired as the archdiocese’s coordinator for Hispanic communications.

“My perspective of me being Hispanic, that’s what I bring,” Prado explained describing why the position is such a good fit for her. “I think the important thing is also to recognize – and Archbishop (Jerome E.) Listecki recognizes – the need to serve and communicate to the growing Hispanic population within this (archdiocese), so he finds that it’s also very important to reach to the Hispanic audience. Me being Hispanic creates that awareness. The Hispanic community has to be reached in a different way than the normal ministry.”

After serving as a director of religious education for her home parish St. Hyacinth, Milwaukee, for five years, Prado has worked in the archdiocese’s communications office since 2008 as an administrative assistant, whose duties were to coordinate the administrative facets of department projects and provide administrative support for the office. She became familiar with the need for a Hispanic communications coordinator while translating school marketing material for the archdiocese.

“It was to be translated, but it was not meeting the needs, so we thought it was better that I become more involved in the planning stages of when the material was being developed,” she explained. According to Prado, the material wasn’t working for Hispanic Catholics because it wasn’t tailored to them. New, customized material was needed if the archdiocese wished for it to be effective.

Prado, who assumed her new role this past July, has a plan. Her first order of business is to find ways to capitalize on the “good work already done within the archdiocese.”

“Mainly, it’s going to be in the planning, strategizing, research stage, because I’m going to be meeting with pastors, and also the school marketing office, to see what has to be done first,” she explained about her intention to hear firsthand the problems or ideas within parishes and schools. “Because within the Hispanic community there are different needs. Like, the Hispanic community in the Milwaukee area is very different from the Hispanic community in the Racine, Fond du Lac areas.” Those in the Milwaukee area are a more stable group, whereas those in the Racine/Fond du Lac areas tend to be more migratory, she added.

Meeting with other Hispanic Catholics and finding a way to serve their needs is one way Prado feels her faith will grow as the coordinator.

“My faith is very strong. For me, I think faith is developed through relationships, and how you relate to other people,” she explained. “You learn from people because of the challenges that they have, and they also help you grow and mature, and make your faith, also, even richer.”