Hoffsman Ospino, an assistant professor of Hispanic ministry and religious education at Boston College, School of Theology and Ministry, directed the annual diocesan retreat for Hispanic catechists on June 29 at the Jesuit Retreat Center in Parma. About 100 catechists gathered for the daylong event.
Ospino, a native of Columbia, has a master’s degree in theology with a concentration in Church history and doctoral degree in theology and education from Boston College. He served in several leadership capacities with the national V Encuentro. Ospino also is the author of several books.
The mission of Hispanic catechesis in the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland is to offer a formation in Spanish for catechists in communities with Hispanic ministry, according to Hortensia Rodriguez, catechetical formation leader for Western Area and Hispanic parishes. Part of their formation is the annual retreat, which is required for basic certification, she said. Rodriguez helped plan and guide the group through the retreat.
Theme of the 2019 retreat, which was conducted in Spanish, was “Soy Catequista – I am a Catechist.”
Catechists from Hispanic parishes in the diocese – St. Michael the Archangel, La Sagrada Familia and Our Lady of Lourdes, all in Cleveland; Sacred Heart Chapel, Lorain; St. Mary, Painesville; St. Agnes, Orville; and St. Bernard and St. Mary, Akron -- gathered for the retreat.
Bishop Nelson Perez celebrated the opening Mass with Father Mark Riley, pastor of St. Michael the Archangel, and Father Chris Zerucha, pastor of St. Bernard and St. Mary, concelebrating. The choir from St. Michael’s provided music.
The bishop told the catechists that they respond to the baptismal vocation and it is through catechesis and as missionary disciples that we have the opportunity to proclaim the job of the Gospel. He also expressed his gratitude to the catechists for the work that they do.
After Mass, the group posed for a photo with the bishop in the chapel before dispersing for a continental breakfast. Catechists who had completed various levels of training were recognized by the bishop and received certificates.
Rick Krivanka, director of the Jesuit Retreat Center, welcomed the catechists back, noting that two years ago they were the first group to use the newly opened addition to the retreat center. “You are numero uno,” Krivanka quipped, explaining that although he does not speak Spanish, he wanted the catechists to know how important they are to the Church and to the retreat center.
“You speak the language of St. Ignatius of Loyola,” he said, referring to the co-founder and first superior general of the Society of Jesus, commonly known as the Jesuits. St. Ignatius was born in Spain and had a deep devotion to the Blessed Mother, something else the saint has in common with the catechists, Krivanka said, as he pointed to a small shrine devoted to Our Lady of Guadalupe in the meeting room.
There were four retreat sessions: called to be catechists, the joy of being catechists, the particularity of Hispanic catechists and the spirituality of the Hispanic catechist. The day included group activities, discussion, a final group reflection and closing prayer.
“I could feel God here with me all day at the retreat,” said one attendee. “The words of God through Dr. Ospino encouraged me to continue my vocation as a catechist in my parish with more dedication and joy. A sense of peace and strength supported me all day.”