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New leadership team at SEPI

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Father Rafael Capó moves from SEPI to become vice president of Mission at St. Thomas University.

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Father Rafael Capó moves from SEPI to become vice president of Mission at St. Thomas University.

MIAMI | In his message to the V National Encuentro of Hispanic Ministry, Pope Francis expressed his hope that the process that has come to a conclusion will continue to bear fruit for the Church in the United States. The pope has asked dioceses to respond to the growing presence, gifts, and potential of Hispanic young people and families, while at the same time being grateful to all those who led this important initiative of the U.S. Bishops.

The Southeast bishops present at SEPI’s last Board of Directors meeting shared this gratitude for the work of Father Rafael Capó, who has led the Southeast Bishops Office and Pastoral Institute for Hispanic Ministry (SEPI) bringing this important organization to become one of the main centers for formation and accompaniment of Hispanic/Latinos in the Southeast and the nation.

Father Capó, a priest of the Archdiocese of Miami, has been director at SEPI for almost ten years and has now been appointed by Archbishop Thomas Wenski as Vice President of Mission at St. Thomas University. The appointment of Father Capó comes as St. Thomas University moves to promote and integrate the Catholic mission and core values of the University into all segments and areas of the institution and as the Church calls for the formation of leaders in the context of cultural diversity and the growing numbers of young Latinos, evidenced by the USCCB V National Encuentro.

As significant work has been undertaken to design a new organizational structure that would best support SEPI’s efforts and ministry in the post V Encuentro context, SEPI’s Board of Directors approved a new leadership structure that would equip the organization for a continued path of growth and impact in regional and national Hispanic Ministry efforts of evangelization, formation and communion.

Piarist Father Emilio Sotomayor, newly appointed executive director of SEPI.

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Piarist Father Emilio Sotomayor, newly appointed executive director of SEPI.

The new leadership structure was presented in the meeting of the Board of Directors held on May 19th. The structure aims to ensure the leadership and spiritual accompaniment of a priest appointed Executive Director while adding the position of a Director of Formation with the academic credentials and leadership experience in Hispanic Ministry and the V Encuentro.

At this meeting, the bishops of the Board of Directors appointed Piarist Father Emilio Sotomayor as executive director and introduced Dr. Olga Villar as the new Director of Formation.

Father Sotomayor comes with the educational and formation experience of the Piarist Fathers, who will return to have a presence at SEPI. Father Sotomayor is well acquainted with SEPI’s ministry, as he was a member of the Piarist Community in Miami. He is presently pastor of Annunciation Church, a Hispanic parish in Manhattan, New York. He is also a member of the Provincial leadership team of the Piarist Fathers USA-Puerto Rico Province. He has taught in SEPI’s schools of ministries throughout the Southeast and has supported Hispanic ministries with young adults and vocations in the Southeast.

Together with Father Sotomayor’s leadership experience with Hispanic communities and young people, Dr. Olga Villar now joins the SEPI team as Director of Formation, bringing the talent, academic credentials and expertise in Hispanic Ministry that will help SEPI to move forward in the implementation of the conclusions of the V Encuentro.

Dr. Olga Villar, new director of formation at SEPI.

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Dr. Olga Villar, new director of formation at SEPI.

Dr. Villar was first associated with SEPI as a teenager in Pastoral Juvenil and has a life of commitment to ministry with the credentials of a Masters and Doctorate in Hispanic Ministry. She has taught courses at SEPI for 22 years and served as Director of Hispanic Ministry in the Archdiocese of Mobile, Alabama, leading the diocese in the process of the V Encuentro. She has been part of the Southeast regional V Encuentro leadership team, teaches at SEPI’s Master’s program and schools of ministries, and is leading SEPI’s Pastoral Accompaniment Program for Hispanic families in the Diocese of Jackson, MS, in partnership with Catholic Extension Society.

At the last Board of Directors meeting, Chairperson Archbishop Wenski, together with Archbishop Rodi of Mobile, Archbishop Aymond of New Orleans, and Archbishop Kurtz of Louisville, expressed their gratitude for Father Capó’s leadership and ministry at SEPI as he begins his new ministry at St. Thomas University, while at the same time welcomed Father Sotomayor and Dr. Villar to SEPI, with the desire that this new leadership team will advance the strategic vision of SEPI in alignment with the needs of Hispanic Ministry in the 30 dioceses served by SEPI, as well as the priorities and plans of Hispanic ministry, evangelization and formation of the U.S. Catholic Bishops.

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