13: DOCAT Inspires Hispanic Young Adults


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Fr. Rafael Capó

Patti Gutierrez

Show Notes patticc.com/13 Notas del Programa patticc.com/s13

Fr. Rafael Capó, director of the Southeast Pastoral Institute, shares with us about involving Hispanic young adults in Catholic Social teaching through the DOCAT.

Recommended Resources:

Free eBook and Website templates from Patti’s Catholic Corner: patticc.com/resources

DOCAT English – Paperback Kindle Version Try Kindle Unlimited for one month free or give it as a gift

DOCAT Spanish (Latin American) not available to order online here in the U.S., but it is available through Verbo Divino for $15 or for 10+ $12 plus shipping; just call (909) 383-9030 to order.

Pope Francis’ dream for the DOCAT

DOCAT App – be one of the Pope’s 1 Million!

Resources from SEPI:

1st chapter of the DOCAT study guide is available (bilingually)

Intro videos for each chapter of the DOCAT are published: English Spanish

Check back early 2019 for all the DOCAT resources

To schedule a DOCAT workshop in the Southeast contact info@sepi.us or Laura Lopez at 305-279-2333

YOUCAT study guide (Spanish only)

YOUCAT Videos that go with study guide – (Spanish only)


Greetings Gente Puente! In today’s program, Fr. Rafael Capó, director of the Southeast Pastoral Institute, shares with us about involving Hispanic young adults in Catholic Social teaching through the “DO”CAT.

Si prefieres español, puedes leer un resumen del episodio en las notas del programa en patticc.com/s13. El Padre Rafael Capó, director de SEPI, comparte sobre cómo involucrar a los jóvenes en la Doctrina Social de la Iglesia usando el DOCAT.

I’m Patti Gutierrez from Patti’s Catholic Corner. Our team strives to serve ministries like yours from behind the scenes. We provide best practices & encouragement with this podcast and our Facebook group, as well as Spanish translation services from a team experienced in Catholic ministry.

You can find all the resources mentioned in today’s episode and a summary of the episode in English and Spanish, in the Show Notes found at patticc.com/13.

If you want to be part of our online community, just look for Gente Puente on Facebook and join the group.

As I said, today we are going to hear from Fr. Rafael Capó. As director of SEPI he has had led a project to train Hispanic young adults as missionaries of Catholic Social Teaching throughout the southeast region of the United States using the DOCAT book. The DOCAT was given to the young people of the world by Pope Francis during World Youth Day in Poland in 2016. Now these missionaries from SEPI have started going out to the dioceses in the southeast and they are about to share these resources with the entire U.S. This model could be easily adapted for other areas and is even being discussed with Bishops from all over Latin America.

Now let’s listen to my conversation with Fr. Rafael Capó.


Welcome Fr. Rafael, thank you for being here on the Gente Puente podcast!

Thank you Patti for having me here with you and your listeners.

Opening Prayer.

Father it’s such a pleasure to get to talk to you today, thank you for joining us, and taking time out of your busy schedule to share about your project with us. Before that, can you tell our listeners a little about yourself, your background, your vocation, and your ministry?

Yes, I am happy to do that Patti. I’m Father Rafael Capó, I’m a priest of the Archdiocese of Miami. I was born and raised in Puerto Rico. I’m the director at the US Catholic Bishops’ Southeast Regional Office for Hispanic Ministry, the Southeast Pastoral Institute (SEPI), which is the education and formation branch for Hispanic Ministry in the Dioceses of the Southeast. That means all of the dioceses from Florida up to North Carolina, Kentucky, down west to Louisiana, it covers nine states, and 30 Dioceses that have their regional office and Pastoral Institute. The Institute was born out of the Second National Encuentro of Hispanic Ministry. I’ve been director here for seven years. The Fifth National Encuentro has brought so many new challenges and opportunities and hopes. Ministry is thriving and full of excitement.

What is the project that you are going to share with us today? Can you give us the overall idea and how it works?

Yes! I will be sharing with you about the DOCAT Young Adult Missionary Program that SEPI has been leading after Pope Francis entrusted youth worldwide with this catechism on Catholic Social Teaching. So this is a program that SEPI came up with after the last World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland. It is going out to the Dioceses and involving all of the Hispanic/Latino Youth.

So, it started with the formation of young adults? Can you tell us a little about that?

Let me give you some story before that, what Pope Francis gave to young people really started with what Pope Benedict had given the youth in Madrid. Pope Benedict wanted to give young people a small catechism, with young people’s language, so he came up with YOUCAT. SEPI trained young Latinos with this catechism. In Poland Pope Francis took a step further and said he wanted to give the youth a book not just about learning our faith, but what our faith calls us to do: DOCAT. Do. The catechism of what we need to do – Catholic Social Teaching. He then asked who wanted to be a missionary and share this message throughout their Dioceses. So at the Holy Father’s request there was a group from the Southeast that came up to me, wanting to do what the Pope had asked, and they wanted to come up with an idea or project on how to do so.

We began by realizing we cannot just become missionaries if first we don’t get some formation ourselves. So this group requested some theological pastoral formation. We began a program of study with about 35 young adults, in different areas of theology. The program had 10 different areas of study. Once the students completed all of these areas, they began studying the DOCAT and came up with resources for each of the chapters so they could explain the contents to other young adults. We then got partners – Catholic Relief Services, Our Sunday Visitor, some Franciscan Friars and the Spanish Publishing House, Editorial Verbo Divino – to help us in different ways. We got funding to be able to record videos for each of the chapters, for buying books for participants, we also got help to publish a study guide. With all of these resources our young missionaries have been going out to our own Southeast Dioceses. They visit young adult groups, and lead workshops where they share their resources. We have a packet of resources and we have sent our missionaries to lead diocesan workshops and training sessions all the way up to Louisville, to different places in Florida, and soon to Charlotte, and Louisiana and hopefully in the near future we will be sharing our resources with other Dioceses throughout the southeast as well as sharing the resources with the rest of the nation.

Nice! Can you tell me a little bit about what the missionaries do when they get to these Dioceses, like who do they work with? What activities do they do?

The group of missionaries goes to the Dioceses and organizes workshops, normally is a one intensive day experience, where they have prayer, they have different activities, studies, they go thru the resources, like the study guide and review the chapters of the DOCAT itself. So that the participants themselves can do the same thing with their groups. We have had a great experience visiting those Dioceses and sharing with all those young adults.

Great! Are they in Spanish or English or Bilingually?

Most of them have been in Spanish. We have had one in English. The study guide itself its bilingual. The program is meant for Hispanic/Latino young adults, in both languages so they can go back and forth between languages. It has the Hispanic/Latino culture and mentality behind it, but the content is so good it can be shared not just with Hispanics. They could be used with campus ministries or other young adult groups as well.

So can you tell people listening, that maybe are in the Southeast Region, how they could invite the missionaries and then people from other regions, where they can find some of these resources, and any advice you have for starting something similar in their area?

For people within our Southeast Region, it’s easy for them to contact us and we will program it and put a visit in our calendars. We would advise for the Diocesan Director to be the one to contact us or the leader of Pastoral Juvenil. They can send us an email to, info@sepi.us or call Laura Lopez at 305-279-2333 or our webpage is www.sepi.us . Very soon we will be publishing the study guide and our resources on the webpage. We will also be available for any Diocese, who is very interested in this program if they want help getting started. But besides us coming, the very first step I would do is get your DOCAT. Get that catechism and you will find it is so rich in the Church’s social mission – the human person, family, work, environment, peace, economy, etc. They are so beautifully explained. So you can start studying the contents and then find our resources to try to come up with sessions to share with your Young Adult groups.


We will continue with my interview with Fr. Rafael in a moment, but I want to share with you two free resources from my company, Patti’s Catholic Corner. At patticc.com/resources you can find an e-book that I wrote for people like me who grew up in the prevailing culture here in the United States, but who want to learn more about the Hispanic culture and how the differences affect ministry with the Hispanic community. The other free resource is for webmasters of Catholic parishes who want to welcome and provide basic information to people who speak Spanish. They are templates that you can easily put on your pages without knowing a word of Spanish. If you or someone you know could use these free resources, please check them out at patticc.com/resources.

Now let’s continue the conversation with Fr. Rafael.

What are some of the things that you learned along the way, or that you would change if you did it again, or that you’ve started changing for the future related to this program?

I’d say the delivery of the materials, it takes new forms so adapting to new forms, new groups or different realities. For example, we are now being asked to share our program with young adult leaders from different Latin American countries. The Bishops of Central America and the Archbishop of Panama have asked us to share our program so they can replicate the SEPI program for Latin America. We are very excited to share our materials, resources and experience with young people around the Latin America so they can do the same. We are very proud that the Archbishop of Panama will be talking about this in his opening speech of World Youth Day in January and having a sendoff of some missionaries. To us that means, this program is something that we can all work with, and replicate.

Father can you share something that has gone really well or exceeded your expectations, or some way that you have seen God show up in this experience either with the people that you’re forming or with the community where you have shared this message?

Yes, I will say that it all started with a personal encounter with Christ. That is what has transformed these young adults. The personal journey of these young adults. They experienced a very profound personal encounter with Christ that goes back to an experience they had at World Youth Day in Rio. Some of these same young adults were there with me. Where they encountered a crisis because a flood had changed the venue of the vigil. We ended up leaving the overnight vigil and returning to where we were staying before. We were sad and defeated. At that moment a young woman showed up and asked me my name and I told her. She looked at me and said: Fr. Rafael, remember you are loved. She did this with every single person in my group, calling them each by their names and telling them to remember they are loved. That put my group on fire, to come back to the Diocese and go back to Poland and accept these missionary challenges from Pope Francis. So I’d say the strength and hope and all the beautiful aspects of what has come out of this program have their origins realizing God’s love, and because of this personal encounter with the Lord. They have committed themselves to formation and service. It’s been exciting to see that personal transformation and commitment of our young adults that can bring much hope and much joy even through troubled times.

Thank you for sharing that. How do you concretely or practically, keep that in the forefront in the program or how do you continue to motive them to not forget that encounter, or to continue fostering the spiritual side of what you are doing throughout the formation program?

We try to reconnect with prayer vigils, moments of adoration, silence, small gatherings where we have moments of prayers. Those moments are important throughout the experience for recharging and reconnecting with the Lord and among themselves.

Can you share some advice in general about leading Ministry anything hat you’ve learned over the years, maybe as a priest, or as the leader of SEPI, or as a leader in general, on how to lead people well? Or how to balance your personal and spiritual life? Can you share something that you’ve learned?

I’d say to keep balance in your life – stay strong in body, mind, and spirit. As a priest I try to do this, and I invite the youth to do this in their lives. Keep balance; stay healthy, exercise, and care for the temple of your body. Also, dedicating time to strengthen your spirit through retreats and moments of prayer in silence. Keep studying, feed your mind and keep learning.

Another advice for leaders in ministry is to know your people, get to know them, accompany them. Acompañamiento. It’s such a rich term in Spanish both theologically and pastorally. It’s being beside our people – not just serve them without even knowing who they are. You need to walk with them and know their hearts and know their needs. By accompanying, the biggest lesson will be learned and that will be the first step to opening many doors in ministry.

The third advice I’d like to share is to stay joyful, we need joyful people in ministry. We need people full of enthusiasm and joy, it is the joy of the gospel needed to go out and serve. Pope Francis reminds us of that in his encyclical, The Joy of the Gospel, by saying we don’t need sad faces that look like they are at a funeral, we need people that are joyful, that have a smile on their faces. That’s the power of the gospel and Jesus Christ that can transform the world. We need ministers, priests, young adult leaders in the Church that have that joy of the Gospel and can share that joy with others.

Thank you very much. I know you could continue to share lots from your experience, so I appreciate you taking the time, as we close though, could you give us some words of encouragement to maybe a minister listening that’s going thru a difficult time of challenge – can you encourage them? And say a prayer for all those that serve the church?

My advice is to realize that crisis and difficult moments are part of the journey, no disciple can evade the cross. There will be moments that we will have to face difficult times. Always remember, in the depths of your heart, that is not the end, there is always Easter Sunday and there is always joy. Keep that in mind and in your heart, and persevere, just as our Blessed Mother persevered, just as the apostles persevered. Stay strong and stay joyful because that will take you to the Easter joy.

Let us ask the Lord to inflame our hearts with this joy of the Gospel.

Let us pray. Good and gracious Lord, you have called us to be your missionary disciples. You have given each one of us the graces of baptism, that make us your disciples and your missionaries. Give us the strength, the Holy Spirit, to realize that even through difficult times we are called to endure, persevere and to build your kingdom. As we keep going forward as your missionary disciples, help us so that our efforts bring much joy to the world, and bring much fruits to the mission of the church. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Amen. Thank you, Fr. Rafael, for coming with us to talk about this DOCAT project, and I’m sure that lots of people will be taking advantage of the resources you will be sharing in the few weeks. So thank you!

Thank you and I hope we can continue some other conversations in the future and I pray for you all.

Great, thank you.


What a great conversation! Here are some key takeaways for me:

  1. The “DO”CAT is a rich resource that as Fr. Rafael said beautifully explains the Church’s social mission – the human person, family, work, environment, peace, economy, etc. Young people are hungry to put their faith into practice. I remember my own faith as a young person being awakened and strengthened through Catholic Social Teaching and going out into the world to act on it. The first step – get a copy! Find links in the Show Notes to get a copy in English and Spanish and you can even try out Kindle Unlimited free for one month and get the Kindle edition in English. Consider giving it as a gift to the young people in your life or ministry! There’s even a DOCAT app!
  2. Hispanic young people in the southeast have heard and answered Pope Francis’ call to be missionary disciples – first with the YOUCAT and now with the DOCAT. They are already being sent out and they are ready for more invitations in the Southeast. In the Show Notes you can find links to the videos they produced for each chapter as well as Chapter 1 of their study guide. In a few weeks all the resources they have designed will be ready for the entire U.S. to benefit from, thanks to their generous partners. Check sepi.us in early 2019 to find them.
  3. Never forget that the fruits of any program always have their origin in one’s personal encounter with the living Christ. God first loved us and to spread his love to others we need to constantly be reminded of this. In any program we lead in ministry let us always remember to include an element of introducing or reconnecting participants to that encounter with Christ.
  4. Get to know your people! Ministry should not be a generic service to a faceless crowd. It is “acompañamiento” to walk with a certain people at a certain time in history, to know their hearts and their needs.
  5. Once we have accompanied our people, then we bring can them the joy of the gospel with joy in our own hearts! No matter what difficulties we face, we know deep down that after the cross comes the resurrection!

I hope that you liked the interview too and that it will serve you in your ministry.

Don’t forget to visit the Show Notes with all the resources mentioned in this episode and information about SEPI at patticc.com/13.

In the next episode, we are going to tackle and issue that Fr. Rafael brought up – taking care of our body, mind and spirit. This season of Advent and Christmas can be one of the most stressful and hectic times of the year for all of us, but especially those in ministry. So, for the next episode we’re going to mix things up a bit and focus on the minister, instead of just the ministry. Sandra Navarro, assistant editor in the Hispanic Ministry Resource Center of Claretian Publications shares with us about her journey of recognizing the need to take better care of her body, mind and spirit so she could give her best at home, at work and in her parish. She has now begun coaching others in changing their habits for holistic well-being. Make sure to join us in episode 14!

If you would like to be a guest on a future episode you can find more information at patticc.com/gentepuente. You do not have to be an expert, you can simply share from your experience something concrete that other Hispanic ministers can use in their ministries. We do not want to waste our time re-inventing the wheel. Let’s help each other.

Also, there are many traditions and celebrations of this season of the year that we have not yet talked about here in the podcast. Come to our Facebook group to share your favorite celebrations so other ministers can learn from your experience. Maybe a pastorela, las Misas de Aguinaldo, a manger scene or “nacimiento,” Acostar al Niño or other Christmas celebrations. We would love to hear how you celebrate in your community during the month of December and also see your photos of these beautiful traditions. You can find us at www.facebook.com/groups/gentepuente or simply look for Gente Puente on Facebook.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Gente Puente podcast in Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or your favorite podcast app so you do not miss any future episode!

Thanks for listening today. May God bless you and your ministry as gente puente!

35 episodes available. A new episode about every 10 days averaging 42 mins duration .