Parish Newsletter

A Service of the Parish Evaluation Project

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

April, 2014

Multicultural Parishes

In working with multicultural parishes, the challenge is to find avenues for interaction so that the parish is not a collection of separate communities, but one that is united, all groups heading in a common direction together.  One point of cultural intersection might be the youth who are often bi-lingual, speaking one language at home and another in public.  At one parish, there was a great desire to have the two youth groups, one Hispanic and the other Anglo, come together as one.  A core group was established which is in the process of planning an event at the end of April as a first attempt in pulling the two groups together.

Successful Bridge-Building

One example of drawing youth from different cultures together is the “Ripple Effect” Milwaukee Youth Council.  It was formed to unite African-American and Hispanic teenagers and get them working on common issues and problems facing both groups.  This “Ripple Effect” Council had a humble beginning.  It started when a staff member of the Casa Romero Center on the Southside of Milwaukee led a retreat for five different Boys and Girls Clubs on the predominantly African-American Northside of the city. Annie Rivera built the retreat around the theme of “The Road to Peaceable Leadership.”  She noticed during her presentation that a few of the participants stood out as natural leaders.  They expressed interest in learning more about Casa Romero and, as a result, were invited to be small group facilitators for Casa’s middle school retreats.  A team of nine youth was formed, seven Hispanics and two African-Americans.  They began a collaborative effort to create an open mic event they named “Unite for the Mic.”  The participants would be asked to show off a musical talent or some other ability.  Team members would directed the event, as well as perform acts themselves as a way of showing those attending what would be expected of them.


Unite the Mic

The middle schoolers were supposed to sign up for the open mic when they came in, but few had the courage to do so. The first half of the program included the team doing acts, plus the few others who had signed up. At intermission, as pizza was being passed around, the leaders encouraged others to come up and show off their talent. A number did respond, including one young boy who said he could play the piano. Those running the retreat were apprehensive, not thinking he could do this, but when he started to play, to everyone’s amazement and delight, he showed the 150 middle-schoolers that he was more than up to the task. This was just one of many surprises that made the event such a success.


What Do I Stand For

This first adventure gave the planning group courage to try another. The “Ripple Effect” Council grew to twelve members, six African-American and six Hispanic, along with five adults. The next step was planning a retreat for teenagers, ages 13 to 17. In Annie Rivera’s words, “All of the kids were asked to make a map to lead them to their own futures. . . By the end of the retreat, 100% of the youth had a ten-year goal, they all identified 3 or 4 values that kept them on the right path, they all named and claimed gifts and talents they possess to empower them and keep them motivated, they all identified areas of service they felt drawn to.” The Council led the way by putting on a skit that began with those from the Northside and Southside fighting each other, when all at once a strong voice came from above, telling them to stop, come together and shake hands. They began to discover common issues and a common ground. This led to the entire group huddling together as a team, shouting “1, 2, 3, Diversity!” This progression of forming a diverse Core Group, planning an event that draws youth together, making sure everyone is involved; this is what spells success.