Iowa Catholic Priest Named Leadership Awardee for Championing Latino Community

Fr. Guillermo Trevińo, the pastor of St. Joseph Parish in West Liberty, Iowa, is this year’s recipient of the Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award.

The Catholic priest was chosen for the award based on his efforts to champion the local Latino community.

Latino Community Champion

According to Catholic Philly, Father Trevińo first came to the parish when Bp. Thomas R. Zinkula assigned him there in 2018. The rural town has a total population of only 3,808.

Father Trevińo was only 32 years old when he first served at St. Joseph. He was only three years into his ordination when Bishop Zinkula assigned him to the Diocese of Davenport.

After four years of being the pastor of St. Joseph Parish and St. Joseph Church, Father Trevińo had already become an important community figure, especially in the Latino communities in both churches. The report said that the Latino residents he serves primarily work in the meatpacking and agriculture industries.

Father Trevińo has helped establish the Escucha Mi Voz during his pastoral work, which serves as the voice of community members who want to amplify their concerns.

Among the issues that Escucha Mi Voz helped trumpet is the exclusion of Latinos from COVID-19 funding from the federal government based on their citizenship.

Through their prodding, the city council of West Liberty earmarked $700 checks to 200 Latino residents. The beneficiaries used the relief funding to help tide them over during the pandemic.

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Father Trevińo said that Escucha Mi Voz’s success in convincing city officials to recognize the needs of the Latino community was a huge step in helping Latinos realize their power to advocate for and realize the changes they need.

“It took on a life of its own for people to advocate for themselves. They did the work. I just said, ‘Yes,’ to let them meet here (at the parish). It’s really a population that is not used to speaking up. In my first talk, I said to them you have a right to say how your feel. If enough of you feel this way, it’s a legitimate cause,” Father Trevińo explained.

The priest added that Bishop Zinkula’s guidance and help made him realize that his ministry works among Latino immigrants in West Liberty was a way of taking him out of his comfort zone, which is impossible in the Quad Cities where he came from.

But for those who worked with the priest, the credit is due to him for his leadership role in the local Latino community.

Recognition of Leadership

Father Trevińo’s efforts in helping the Latino residents make their voices heard were instrumental in earning him the Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award.

The recognition is given by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD). CCHD is a program by the U.S. Catholic bishops focused on social justice and the fight against domestic poverty.

Father Trevińo will receive the award on Nov. 15 at the Baltimore general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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