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What is Ministry en lo Cotidiano (MLC)?

Ministry en lo Cotidiano means ministry “in the everyday.” Lo cotidiano is a concept drawn from the work of Latine theologians in the United States over the last 30 years.1 It describes the starting place for knowing and understanding God (for doing theology), that is, the real lived experience of Latines in this country. These experiences have been marked by marginalization and celebration, by injustice and profound grace.

MLC is a leadership development and faith formation fellowship for undergraduate students interested in experiencing faith-based service in Latine communities in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. The purpose of MLC is to develop leaders for the future of the Church and Latine communities. Latine peoples are responsible for 71% of the growth of the Roman Catholic community in the United States since 1960, with sixty percent of all Roman Catholics under the age of 18 in the United States self-identifying as Hispanic or Latine.2 Despite the growth in these populations, Latine peoples are under-represented Church ministerial leadership. MLC is designed to close that gap by encouraging Latine students to engage in fellowships in their own communities. Dominican University is uniquely positioned to play an important role in this kind of vocational formation as a Catholic institution with a distinctly Dominican charism that is also a Hispanic-Serving Institution.  We partner with parishes and community-based organizations on Chicago’s Southwest side and the near-West suburbs to create dynamic immersive experiences for students and supports their formation through an innovative theological reflection model.

What does the program look like?

Each year, University Ministry interviews and accepts 8–15 students into Ministry en lo Cotidiano. Fellowship responsibilities span a wide range of activities including but not limited to accompaniment of immigrants, community organizing, education and tutoring, immigration legal services, increasing food security and faith development and campus ministry.

List of Past and Present Community Partners

The experience of faith, service and everyday life Latine faith communities is one of encounter, or encuentro. Weekly theological reflection sessions that draw upon the deep wells of Latine theologies provide a safe and brave space for fellows to process and interpret their experiences. In encountering el Pueblo de Dios and reflecting upon those encounters, fellows inevitably encounter their own shifting cultural identities and reinterpret them in the light of faith. A competent staff member at each of the organizations above supervises Dominican students onsite while a trained university minister prepares and guides small groups in theological reflection. 

This non-employment-based opportunity (NEBO) engages students for ten hours per week spanning ten weeks of the fall and spring semesters. Students also receive at least 12 hours of professional development training and may be eligible for up to two academic credits per semester with departmental approval. Spanish language is not required, though many bilingual/bicultural fellows have utilized their gifts in the language onsite.

Questions about Ministry en lo Cotidiano can be directed to Andrew Mercado

1 For an in-depth discussion of lo cotidiano, please see: Carmen Nanko-Fernández, “Chapter 1: Lo Cotidiano as Locus Theologicus,” in The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Latino/a Theology, ed. Orlando O Espín, 1st ed. (Chichester, West Sussex, UK ; MJalden, MA: Wiley, 2015), 1.

2 Hosffman Ospino, “Catholic Schools in an Increasingly Hispanic Church,” Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, 2016, 5.