By Michael Gresham
The Texas Catholic
Bishop Edward J. Burns announced July 1 that Peter J. Ductrám has been named as the Diocese of Dallas new senior director of ministries, a position where he will be called on to oversee all aspects of ministerial efforts in the diocese, including youth and young adult, catechesis, family life, lay formation, worship, social and pastoral ministries.
“The goal is to promote more collaboration between our ministerial efforts, highlight the great things they are doing and explore new ways we can work more effectively in order to revitalize our local Church,” said Ductrám, adding that two principals guide these efforts: evangelization and catechesis. “We will be looking to determine how can we — in everything we do — be led by those two principals.”
Ductrám began July 6 in the position created at the behest of Bishop Burns to further the bishop’s vision to revitalize the local Church and guide the diocese into a more apostolic mission in the post-pandemic world.
“As we look to the life of the Church in a post-pandemic world, we in the Diocese of Dallas have a tremendous opportunity to respond to the needs of the faithful with fresh initiatives and bold witness to the enduring love of Jesus Christ. With the naming of a senior director of ministries, I see an opportunity to further inspire spiritual renewal and regeneration of our people through ministry,” Bishop Burns said. “Peter brings with him a love for the Church and a passion for sharing the love of Christ with others. His extensive experience offers him a unique perspective to help guide our diocesan ministries as we return our local Church to our apostolic roots.
“We are blessed that Peter has joined the Diocese and I am confident that through his leadership our ministries will continue to infuse hearts, minds and souls so that we can share the Good News of the Gospel at a time when our world needs it most,” the bishop added.
Ductrám comes to Dallas from the Archdiocese of San Antonio, where he had served since 2018 as the director of the Institute for Lay Ecclesial Ministry and Service. Ductrám served as the director of catechesis for the Archdiocese of Miami from 2011 to 2018. He served as executive director of Centro Espíritu Santo and in coordinator roles for Hispanic ministry for Archdiocese of Chicago. He also served as director of religious education and youth ministry for two Chicago area parishes from 2001 to 2004 Ductrám also has taught at the undergraduate level for candidates in the diaconate and lay ministry programs while serving as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Saint Mary of the Lakes in Mundelein, Illinois, from 2005 to 2011.
Outside of work, Ductrám has served as a consultant to the Secretariat of Evangelization and Catechesis for the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops, as the president of the Federation of Pastoral Institutes and as a board member on the Council of Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities since 2019. From 2014-2019, he was the chair for a V Encuentro National team for USCCB.
A native of Lima, Peru, Ductrám earned his bachelor’s degree in Theology from the Instituto Superior de Estudios Teológicos Juan XXIII in Lima while earning master of arts and master of divinity degrees from the Catholic Theological Union at Chicago.
In his new role, Ductrám said he has to look no further than the diocese’s shepherd for inspiration and guidance. In his pastoral letter, “The Journey Through Lent, Easter, Ascension and Pentecost: A Diocesan Synod and Post-Pandemic Pastoral Plan for the Diocese of Dallas,” Bishop Burns cited St. Peter in reminding the faithful that “Each of us should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” Ductrám agreed, saying he sees that as a vital part of diocesan ministries.
“What is essential is that we determine how we put our gifts together,” he said. “We must recognize how God has touched each of our lives and invited us to different ministries within the Church.”
Like pieces of a puzzle, Ductrám said he enjoys meeting people involved in ministry, identifying their gifts and finding their perfect fit.
“Every person has a story about how God has transformed their lives and has inspired them to serve in their particular ministry. It is beautiful to see how each one of them is responding to their own particular call,” he said. “That’s the beauty of it — seeing all of these experiences of faith.”
One element of the job that excites Ductrám is his role in assisting with diocese’s planned 10-year synod, which opens Dec. 12 on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
“It’s one of those moments when a diocese can dedicate a time to listen to the Spirit of God speaking through all the baptized faithful,” he said. “That is a special moment for all of the Church, both here in Dallas and also in the U.S. It speaks about the vibrancy of the Church.”
Noting that the word, “synodality,” means “walking together,” Ductrám said he is excited about the experience the faithful in the Dallas diocese will soon have.
“A synod, in itself, is not a gathering where the loudest gets the floor, but rather is a gathering where the faithful, through their baptismal role and from their relationship with Christ, speak of the needs and areas that we need pay attention,” he explained. “It’s a place where they can articulate what God is telling them. And it as a moment where the bishop, as our shepherd, is attentive and listening, so he can hear the voices of the faithful.”
Regardless of the outcome of a synod, Ductrám said there is a certain beauty to the process.
“It is the activity of the Church that prayerfully listening to this movement of the Spirit. It is a church that prays together, that speaks together, that shares concerns together, and plans together for the future,” he said. “To me, that is an exciting process.”
Ductrám has seen firsthand how the synod process can impact a community of faith, having helped with the Archdiocese of Miami’s synod in 2012.
“I was able to participate throughout the different stages of the synod and see how the archdiocese could proactively address the needs and concerns of the faithful,” he said. “It can impact everything throughout our diocese.”
And, for that reason, Ductrám stressed the importance that the diocese’s Catholic faithful be involved.
“I truly hope our Catholic community within the diocese can come together to the planned listening sessions and articulate what their spirit is telling them in their hearts,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s the voices of the people of God who are leading this. The baptized Catholics must be engaged for the synod to be successful and effective.”