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River Forest, IL — Hundreds of participants from dozens of acclaimed Catholic institutions of higher learning around the nation joined the Dominican University community for the third ¡El Futuro is Here! conference, gathering in the spirit of togetherness to embrace and advance culturally sustaining practices in ministry.

The three-day conference held Aug. 1-3 on Dominican University’s campus also served as a formal introduction to the institution’s PASOS Network. 

Housed under Dominican University’s division of mission and ministry, the PASOS Network is a national community of praxis that transforms higher education institutions by cultivating and nurturing the leadership roles of young adults for the church and society. It emerges from the relationships, cultures, and intellectual and theological frameworks of Latine and BIPOC young adults. It is guided by culturally sustaining practices rooted in the faith traditions of students and their communities.

The work of the PASOS Network will focus on five key elements that underpin its work: pastoral (ministry), accompaniment, study, organizing and synodality. These five areas are a reflection of the students Dominican University and other Catholic, Hispanic-serving institutions serve and will ground the imperative work of the PASOS Network.

The university will formally launch the PASOS Network over the next academic year. Additionally, Dominican will create a digital commons that will serve as a repository of resources and scholarship designed to help build and strengthen intercultural competency. In the fall, as part of the PASOS Network’s the university is also planning to launch an undergraduate journal that will serve as an intersection of faith, culture, justice and art. Students from around the nation will be able to submit their academic and artistic works for publication. 

As the number of young, Hispanic Catholics continues to grow in every corner of the country, Latine communities continue to call on Catholic structures and organizations to respond to the signs of the time.

All too often, Catholic colleges and universities are among these organizations that have been slow to adjust to the increasing number of self-identifying Hispanic students. 

As a Catholic Hispanic-Serving Institution, Dominican University, sponsored by the Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa, is on the leading edge of innovation to counter these trends. The university continues to convene partners and encourage the development of culturally sustaining, holistic accompaniment for Latine students and, more broadly, for all intentionally and historically marginalized students.

“As a DACA recipient, I know all too well that some systems, structures, policies, and practices do not always foster or support an environment for one to thrive,” said Armando Guerrero-Estrada, director of the PASOS Network. “Through the PASOS Network, we hope to re-envision what it means to serve and support students from historically and intentionally marginalized communities. We want to create a landscape that celebrates la cultura del pueblo (the culture of the people). One that acknowledges and celebrates the assets of Hispanic communities to our institutions of higher education, to the Church, and to society. We want our students to feel empowered and ready to pursue all that God is calling them to be.” 

In addition to serving as an introduction to the innovative PASOS Network, the three-day ¡El Futuro is Here! conference, entitled “Haciendo Lío in Our Own Voices,” also provided presenters a platform to offer particular stories of culturally sustaining responsive campus ministry and theological care happening both inside and outside the classroom while also encouraging theological conversation and reflection. 

An advisory team of Latine ministers, educators and theologians from around the country helped shape the thematic focus of each day of the conference. 

This year’s conference marked a return to an in-person format for the event. In 2021, Dominican University hosted a three-day virtual conference that built on the momentum established in 2018, when the university presented the inaugural relationship-building gathering.


About Dominican University

Founded in 1901, Dominican University is a comprehensive, coeducational Catholic institution offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees through the Rosary College of Arts and Sciences, the Borra College of Health Sciences, the Brennan School of Business and the College of Applied Social Sciences. The university also offers doctoral degrees in information studies and applied social justice. U.S. News & World Report ranks Dominican University among the top 15 of all Midwest regional master’s level universities, and #1 in Illinois for innovation, best value, commitment to undergraduate teaching, and ensuring the social mobility of its graduates.