Mi Español, No Es Bueno And Why That’s A Problem

As I looked around the room, I found myself wondering how I would make this meeting happen. The majority of parents who had shown up to our parent’s meeting for Confirmation mostly spoke Spanish. The funny thing is that I knew that most of the parents attending would have limited English, and that’s why I had asked coworkers and volunteers who were bilingual to assist. The only issue is that they had not yet arrived, and I was beginning to wonder if they had remembered.

At the last minute, enough of my translators showed up, and the meeting could go on, but I could not help but feel guilty that my Spanish was mediocre at best. I’ve worked at a multicultural parish for five years and still have not made time to increase my Spanish. While I don’t believe you have to be fully bilingual or multilingual to run a multicultural ministry, it’s crucial for anyone in the leadership of such ministries to make an effort.

There are tons of resources, from apps to books and classes you can take, but even that is not always enough. While my Spanish needs mucho Trabajo (I think that means plenty of work), what has helped me in a multicultural setting is to:


When I was assisting my parish with live stream during the pandemic, I discovered that simply being present at the Spanish Mass every Saturday did something that years of prior ministry could not. It broke down any mysteries about who I am and who they were, and relationships began to form. Teens from the youth ministry recognized me and introduced me to their parents. Parents got to hear me speak, see my face (mask up) and establish a rapport.

Sometimes we forget how the power of presence and visibility leads to accessibility. Whether you are leading a multicultural parish or trying to reach people in the mission field, the best first step you can take is going to where they will be. After that, there is not too much else you need to do besides showing the face that goes with your name, phone number, and email address.


It’s easy to think that leading a multicultural ministry involves knowing the language. While a large percentage of our parish speaks Spanish, there is a relatively even mix of people from Mexico, El Salvador, Columbia, and others. It creates a diversity of experiences and celebrations, and lumping them all together is not only insensitive but limits your ability to be inclusive and welcoming.

It’s essential to listen to people’s stories and experience their culture. By getting to know the intricacies of their culture, you’ll discover ways to connect and form stronger relationships. The language might be a barrier, but it will be easier to overcome because there will be mutual respect and understanding.


My biggest challenge with learning a language wants to be perfect. I do not want to waste someone’s time as a struggle to find the right words. I don’t want to give the wrong information, and worst I don’t want someone to laugh because I say something slightly inappropriate. I have to remember to get over that fear and treat every experience with the ability to grow.

No matter what, all apps and programs promise you will not learn a language overnight. Even if you are proficient with learning foreign languages, communicating at a comfortable level will take time. I have to remind myself it’s a journey, and there will be people to help me along the way. Be open to correction, advice, and insight. Do not be afraid to ask questions about how to say something or address someone. Your effort and hard work will pay off.

Do you have to be fluent in another language to lead a multicultural ministry effectively? No, but it helps. It not only opens up the communication gates but deepens the bond you have with others. Learning a language is a tool to listening better and understanding the needs of your mission field. 

Are you bilingual/multilingual? If so, what has helped you to embrace multiple languages? 

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