New Leader for Hispanic Youth

Marcos Villalba embraces role as the new diocesan Coordinator of Hispanic Youth and Young Adults

The number of Hispanic Catholics is growing nationwide, especially in the Diocese of Shreveport. The Catholic Extension Society has recognized this trend and something else: the needs of Hispanic people often go unmet by the Catholic Church. In an effort to empower Hispanic Ministries, Catholic Extension has created the Hispanic Lay Leadership Initiative and offers grants to mission dioceses to help them hire personnel to reach out to Hispanic people.

The Diocese of Shreveport is one of the grant recipients. After conducting a local survey, it became evident that there was a large population of underserved Hispanic youth and young adults in the diocese. With this grant from Catholic Extension, the Diocese of Shreveport has been able to hire Marcos Villalba as the Coordinator for Hispanic Youth and Young Adult Ministry.

Marcos, who is himself Hispanic, is looking forward to serving the needs of Hispanic Youth. “Since I’m bilingual I know I have all the talents and gifts God has bestowed on me and I want to make sure I use all of them to glorify His name and bring glory to His kingdom,” said Marcos.

Prior to coming to work for the diocese, Marcos received his Bachelor’s degree in Communications and Design from Louisiana Tech in 2006 and worked for the Monroe News Star newspaper in their graphics and advertising departments.
From there, he felt called to serve the youth at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Ruston.

“I always loved working with the church, being around my faith and learning more, and sharing my faith,” said Marcos. “I came back to my faith through youth ministry and deepened my relationship with Christ. So I want to give back to the Church and help others to also grow in their faith and bring them closer to Christ, who is the Truth, the Way and the Life.”

In just under two years, Marcos helped the small St. Thomas youth group blossom into a very active youth organization with over 50 members. When asked how he accomplished this so rapidly, Marcos beams. He explains how they implemented Life Teen ministry and set up a core team at the church to help with weekly “life nights” where the teens felt comfortable talking with each other about their lives and futures. Marcos got both junior and senior high youth involved in parish events, diocesan events and even national events like summer camps and the National Catholic Youth Conference.
Marcos continued his education through the Dallas School of Ministry and is currently completing his certification in youth ministry through the diocesan sponsored CMD program.

Though Marcos is sad to leave the youth group at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Ruston, he looks forward to helping all Hispanic youth in the diocese bridge the gap with their own parishes and help them overcome language barriers that might keep them away from diocesan wide youth events.

“I want to let them know that I’m here to help them to grow in their faith, invite them and help them. The church has all kinds of generous ventures towards coming to Christ. I want to let them know that they’re called to greatness as Pope Benedict XVI said.”

Marcos has moved back to Shreveport with his wife Stephanie and his son Eduardo. They are expecting another baby in August.

by Jessica Rinaudo, Editor

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