Cristina Hernandez Appointed Diocesan Coordinator of Hispanic Ministry


June 29, 2023

CONTACT: Justin Huyck, Director of Communications; (330) 744-8451, ext. 320,

En Español

The Most Rev. David J. Bonnar, Bishop of Youngstown, is pleased to announce the appointment of Cristina Hernandez as Diocesan Coordinator of Hispanic Ministry, effective July 1, 2023. As Coordinator, Hernandez will build on the work of Father Brian Smith, who has served as Director of Hispanic Ministry since 2021 and will complete his role as he departs for graduate work in moral theology in Rome.

The Diocese of Youngstown’s Office of Hispanic Ministry includes support for a variety of ministries, including Spanish-language Masses at four parishes: Our Lady of Peace Ashtabula, St. Francis of Assisi Parish Canton (formed from the merger of St. Anthony/All Saints and St. Mary/St. Benedict Parishes), St. Paul Salem and St. Dominic Youngstown. The Office of Hispanic Ministry also supports the Diocese of Youngstown’s participation in the pastoral services of the Hartville Migrant Ministry.

As diocesan coordinator, Hernandez will collaborate with the pastors, parochial vicars, diocesan pastoral associates and additional ministry leaders of the four parishes with active Hispanic ministries, continuing to develop the important pastoral ministries exercised at the parish level. Additionally, she will serve as Chair of the Diocesan Council for Hispanic Ministry, acting as a catalyst for strategic planning for the diocese’s Hispanic ministry efforts. Working in conjunction with the diocesan offices of faith formation and lay ecclesial ministry, communications and Catholic Charities, Hernandez will implement new initiatives in formation and education, leadership development, communication outreach and social service support.

Hernandez begins her new role with extensive experience. She has been an active parishioner and leader since 2009 at St. Anthony/All Saints Parish (now St. Francis of Assisi Parish) in Canton, where she has served on the Hispanic Pastoral Council and Parish Pastoral Council, as Youth Ministry Coordinator, as a translator and in various liturgical roles. She has also served the Diocese of Youngstown on the Diocesan Council for Hispanic Ministry and as Diocesan Co-Chair and as a regional and national representative for the Fifth National Encuentro (V Encuentro). The V Encuentro was an historic multi-year process (2014-2019) that included parish, diocesan, regional and national gatherings of Hispanic Catholics, U.S. Bishops, and pastoral leaders dedicated to fostering missionary discipleship. Hernandez also helped plan the diocese’s 2023 Hispanic Ministry Summit, which brought together Hispanics from throughout the diocese for conversation and planning with Bishop Bonnar. Prior to moving to Ohio, Hernandez was active at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Topeka, Kansas.

Cristina Hernandez has a bachelor’s in social work (with a minor in sociology) from Washburn University (Topeka, Kansas), and a master’s in social work from Akron University. She served as a Consultant and Cultural Ally for Stark County Mental Health and as a Case Manager for Proyecto RAICES, which provides educational and social support to children of Latino/Hispanic families residing in the Akron area. She also has a leadership certificate from Boston College School of Theology and Ministry and completed the Diocese of Youngstown’s Foundations in Ministry program. She and her husband, Juan Hernandez, have been married for 35 years and have two children.

In welcoming her to her new role, Bishop Bonnar comments, “Cristina was the first Hispanic person I met when I arrived as Bishop of Youngstown. From that first encounter, it was clear to me that she was an advocate for Hispanic ministry. I am excited to collaborate with her and I welcome her passion and many gifts.”

Hernandez comments, “More than anything I like helping my community. Serving the Hispanic community is my passion. Visiting families, praying the rosary with them, and interacting with different communities has helped me grow in my faith and understand more the needs that are present. With this opportunity, I hope to touch more families in the diocese.”

For more information about Hispanic Ministry in the Diocese of Youngstown, visit: 

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