Welcome/Bienvenido to Casa Jesus
Casa Jesús is a vocational program of the Archdiocese of Chicago started in 1987 to generate priests who will effectively evangelize the growing Hispanic population in Chicago. The young men entering Casa Jesús are native to Spanish-speaking countries, giving them the background in culture and faith needed to serve the Spanish-speaking immigrant population of Chicago.
There is a critical need in the Catholic Church for people to practice their faith within the context of their culture, no matter where they live. Thirty-nine percent (nearly 2.4 million) of the population within the geographic border of the Chicago Archdiocese is Catholic; 40% (938,000) of the Catholic population is Spanish-speaking and 17% identify Spanish as their ONLY language.
Looking at the current profile of the diocese, there are 126 parishes of 366 that offer Mass in Spanish, with 69 parishes (19%) identifying themselves as Hispanic. Of the 847 diocesan priests (active and retired in Chicago, just under 4.3% are native Spanish-speaking.
Casa Jesús is a House of Formation/ Discernment for Hispanic young men interested in the diocesan priesthood. Casa helps prepare the aspirants to enter the seminary by creating a prayerful community in which to live. During the one year program, aspirants study English at University of Illinois at Chicago, do community service and serve in pastoral functions at various churches in the Chicago area. The program also provides opportunities to engage in spiritual direction and personally develop through a program of priestly formation. When the year comes to an end, each participant decides whether or not to apply to the seminary where he would begin the study program that would lead to the priesthood. He must be recommended by the program director for acceptance to the seminary, based on his potential as a priest in the Chicago diocesan system.
We have developed relationships in several dioceses in Mexico, Ecuador, Peru and Colombia, and we have explored relationships with Cuba and El Salvador. We try to focus our outreach to seminaries serving larger dioceses which have an abundant number of seminarians. Because of the growing Spanish-speaking population in Chicago that is primarily Mexican, and the lack of Hispanic priests, we feel this outreach is essential to increasing the number of priests able to serve the needs of the community. For many years, the priests of Chicago have served as missionaries in different parts of the world. Now, in our present situation, we too must see our Hispanic community as mission territory.
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