"IF THE YOUTH DO NOT COME TO CHURCH, THE CHURCH NEEDS TO GO OUT TO THE YOUTH."
Pope Francis, World Youth Day 2013
The New Evangelization has been described as a “…re-proposing of the Gospel to those areas where the roots of Christianity are deep, but where people have experienced a crisis of faith due to secularization.”
(United States Conference of Catholic Bishops)
This is the work of El Padrecito Ministries, a non-profit Catholic ministry in Guadalupe, California. The inspiration for the ministry is based on the life of its founder, Father Masseo Gonzales, OFM Conv.
Although baptized and raised in Catholic schools and confirmed, Fr. Masseo had drifted from his childhood faith and found himself in trouble as a teenager. He was expelled from high school, had acquired a juvenile record, and lost a portion of his right leg as a result of a street fight at the age of 19.
After a series of religious experiences he was led to the Conventual Franciscans of California, who had recently taken over his neighborhood parish, St. Paul the Apostle, in San Pablo, CA. It was at this time that Father Masseo discovered his vocation.
After being ordained in November of 1996, he knew he had “a vocation within a vocation,” which was to creatively evangelize youth–youth such as himself–and to “bring them home.”
The opportunity presented itself in 1999 with the creation of the HOMIES, a line of urban toys, created by Fr. Masseo’s brother, artist David Gonzales. Roughly 100 million of these urban toys were sold in communities around the country, giving “El Padrecito” – one of the official HOMIES – an instant credibility in the cyberworld.
Father Masseo, with the assistance of Bay area, California rapper AMC (Arturo Cruz), wanted to reach out to even more youth, and so a hip-hop outreach was born. Various music videos were produced with the message of peace and non-violence. Since then, the music ministry which is now much more Catholic in nature and faith-focused, has expanded to dioceses all around the country. FoundNation Family, with whom El Padrecito performs, has also performed at World Youth Day 2013 in Brazil and World Youth Day 2019 in Panama.
Performing Arts Center
In addition, since 1999, it has always been a dream for Fr. Masseo to open up a youth center in Guadalupe, California. He received permission to open up a center from his Superior along with local Bishops in 2010. “El Padrecito’s Performing Arts Center” is currently going on it’s ninth year of operations. The ministry has provided instruction in the performing and visual arts, such as Folklorico, Ballet, Tap Dancing, Salsa, Hip-Hop, Fine Arts, Painting, and more to hundred of economically-disadvantaged children on the Central Coast. The children’s dance team perform at roughly 40 venues a year, boosting self-esteem and morale.