BICM was first piloted in the diocese in 2011 when representatives of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Cultural Diversity Secretariat came to El Carmelo Retreat and gave the five-module training. Since then diocesan ministers have assumed the role of teaching the modules and have offered the training five times.
The diocese is one of the most culturally diverse in the nation and Bishop Gerald Barnes has made it a priority for priests, religious and lay ministers to broaden their understanding of the different cultural perspectives present and how they might be welcomed and included in the life and leadership of a parish.
The first module provides the Catholic theological underpinning for the training, the second addresses the definition of culture, the third covers communication between people of different cultural perspectives in ministry settings, the fourth addresses prejudice and racism and the fifth offers a template for creating culturally-integrated parishes.
“This information is very timely, very useful,” said Margaret Miller, Coordinator of Catechetical Ministry at St. Mary Magdalene parish. “It’s another tool to help our ministries grow and function.”
Father Vincent Au, C.MC., pastor of St. Mary Magdalene said gaining a better understanding of cultures other than your own is key to breaking down stereotypes.
“It helps us appreciate the other side,” he said. “Then we don’t demonize them.”
In October, BICM training was given at St. Francis Xavier Cabrini parish in Yucaipa with leadership and staff from The Holy Name of Jesus and St. Kateri Tekakwitha parishes also attending. Last Spring staffs from Our Lady of the Assumption, St. Adelaide and Our Lady of Hope Parish parishes received the training. The Vicars Forane of the diocese and most of the Diocesan Pastoral Center staff have taken BICM. A final training for diocesan staff and St. Bernardine parish will be held in March and another parish training is scheduled for June.
Auxiliary Bishop Rutilio del Riego, who continues to spearhead the trainings, said the diocese has also begun to train others to teach the module so that it can be offered more rapidly to parishes. Currently, the aim is to teach BICM at parishes four times a year, he said.
“I think it’s important that we develop more facilitators,” Bishop del Riego said. “That will allow us to reach out to more people.”