(OSV News) — In November, NET Ministries, a Minnesota-based Catholic youth ministry that has been inspiring and forming young people to live their faith for decades, announced that it was expanding its outreach to Hispanic youth through its YDisciple project.
They have been collaborating with Juan Diego Network, a Catholic intercultural marketing and communications agency focused on the Latino community, to “bring the YDisciple project into Spanish, adapting it to the needs of the Latino culture,” according to a press release.
YDisciple is a platform intended “to provide formation resources for adults and teaching materials for youth, focusing on creating small groups that foster meaningful faith discussions and reflections,” it said in Spanish. Among the resources are videos, guides for participants and leaders, and resources for parents.
OSV News spoke with Annie Grandell, director of YDisciple, who cited studies stating that approximately 60% of Catholics under the age of 18 in the United States are Hispanic. But, she said, she sees these young people “incredibly underserved by resources because most resources in the Catholic space in the American church are for Anglo students.”
Grandell said that through this initiative, YDisciple wanted to serve Hispanic Catholics in the United States by creating high-quality content for Spanish-speaking audiences. She said that in addition to videos for teens translated and dubbed into Spanish by Juan Diego Network, YDisciple has resources for adult leaders translated into Spanish.
“We are working to make sure that all of our training video resources are also done in Spanish, not dubbed, not subtitled, but filmed in Spanish by Spanish-speaking presenters,” Grandell said.
According to Grandell, this effort goes beyond simply translating because “it’s not always as simple as a one-to-one translation, because there might be a term that we use in English that doesn’t translate easily into Spanish.
“So, we make sure that our translators understand the context of pastoral ministry so that they can make sense in Spanish in that pastoral context,” she explained.
Grandell said that one of YDisciple’s primary audiences is between 11 and 18 years old, but her team understands the importance of preparing adult and young adult leaders because they have the task of evangelizing children, teens and other young adults.
“We also put a lot of effort into our adult resources, our training, our leader guides, so they know how to ask good questions, with tips on how to listen to teenagers and answer their questions,” she said.
In September, two series, “Dios es …” (“God Is …”) and “La invitación” (“The Invitation”), were launched on YDisciple.tv. Since then, Spanish-language resources such as a leader’s guide and a series on living with the Holy Spirit have also been included.
Speaking about the “God Is …” video collection, Grandell said it is produced in both English and Spanish, so they hired two different voice actors to read the script, one in English and one in Spanish.
Each of the eight videos in the “Dios es …” collection includes a guide for leaders to facilitate a meaningful conversation with teens, a participant handout, and a handout so parents know what their children discussed.
Grandell explained that, although this collection focuses on topics such as the Incarnation and the Revelation of the Lord, English- and Spanish-speaking youth don’t necessarily ask questions about these things.
Young people are asking what makes Christianity so special or whether God is real, she said. “So, we reverse-engineered the content and started with the questions that they are actually asking,” Grandell explained.
Questions such as, “Where is God in my suffering?” in order to “answer with the beautiful Catholic teaching on suffering so that it makes sense to where their hearts really are,” she said.
Grandell also highlighted the work Juan Diego Network has done for over a year and a half. “They were able to bring that (discipleship) to life in a way that I never would have been able to. They were just an incredible partner on this project, and I look forward to working with them again as we continue to grow this resource,” she said.
José Manuel De Urquidi, founder of Juan Diego Network, spoke with OSV News about his contribution to YDisciple. “Our job was to be able to adapt it to Spanish to speak to young Latinos in the United States,” he said. “It’s a very different culture; even though their primary language in many cases is English, faith is consumed in Spanish.”
He added that YDisciple resources focus “not only on bringing young people closer to Christ, but getting them to continue to grow in their faith and to stay, because we are also seeing that young Latinos are leaving the Catholic Church when they are in their 25s and 30s.”
“We have a lot of hope for what is happening at YDisciple,” De Urquidi said.
According to Grandell, new series in both English and Spanish are planned for simultaneous production in the future.
“Sometimes we can be thinking and thinking about how to make the youth of today be entertained and at the same time deepen their faith and it sounds like an impossible mission,” De Urquidi said. “This here makes it easy for them so that in a very entertaining way, they can enter further into the truths of their life and the ultimate goal, which is Christ.”
Marietha Góngora V. writes for OSV News from Washington.