Sacred Heart Catholic Church is simple but cozy. Most members prefer to worship in Spanish. So it’s no surprise that the image La Virgen de Guadalupe by the altar is the same size as the one of Jesus Christ.

The south Phoenix parish has always been predominantly Latino, a noun that lumps together people from more than 30 countries.

But religion is more complex. What works in one Latin American country may not work in another, said Ignacio Rodriguez, associate director of the office of ethnic ministries for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix.

“Not everybody eats tamales during Christmas,” Rodriguez said. “And not everybody has a strong veneration for our Lady of Guadalupe, as Mexicans do.”

Almost 60 percent of Phoenix’s Catholic population is Latino. Their roots might be anywhere from Mexico to Brazil, where people speak Portuguese, which is offered at a Valley parish.

The Church wants better ways to serve Latinos. The V Encuentro, or fifth meeting, asks Latinos to help build a map for the next 10 to 20 years.

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