SÃO PAULO – Amid a mounting immigration and housing crisis in the state of Massachussets, a Brazilian-born priest has been named a new auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Boston with special responsibilities for foreign-language communities.

Father Cristiano Borro Barbosa was appointed to the role Dec. 9, and his episcopal consecration is scheduled for February.

At the moment, Massachusetts is spending roughly $45 million a month to house both homeless residents and migrants new to the state in existing shelters as well as various hotels and motels. It’s the only state in the country with a “right to shelter” law, but in mid-October Gov. Maura Healey announced that Massachusetts was running out of capacity and could not accomodate more than 7,500 families, or approximately 24,000 individuals..

RELATED: Massachusetts Catholic charities worry as shelter capacity limits loom

The Boston area in particular is one of the major centers of Brazilian immigration in the United States. While there’s no reliable census data about the community’s size, it’s estimated at around 350,000 people. The number of people of Portuguese origin is equally high, and there’s also a sizable Cape Verdean community. Portuguese is thought to be the third most spoken language in the region.

Barbosa becomes the second Brazilian-born bishop in the region after Bishop Edgar Moreira da Cunha, who’s led the Diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts, since 2014.

Barbosa was born in the city of Adamantina in São Paulo state in 1976, and studied psychology at São Paulo State University. He was heavily involved in Catholic lay movements during his university years, which is when he says he discovered his vocation for priesthood.

Barbosa then studied theology at a Jesuit college in Belo Horizonte and completed a master’s program in psychology, after which he studied philosophy. He was ordained in 2007 in the city of Bauru and obtained a scholarship to pursue graduate formation at Boston College.

“I completed a master’s program and a PhD in canonical theology. At the same time, I began working with Brazilian communities, both in Massachusetts and New Hampshire,” he told Crux.

At that point, he said, Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, a longtime advocate for immigrants, suggested he stay on.

“I had to make a discernment,” Barbosa said. “I had already been out of Brazil for many years, but at the same time I saw a growing need in Boston.”

He ended up being incardinated in Boston and began teaching pastoral psychology at the seminary.

Earlier this year, in May, Barbosa left the seminary and became the episcopal vicar of the archidocese’s central area, which comprises Boston and nearby cities such as Cambridge and Brookline. He’s also the secretary of evangelization, discipleship, and pastoral planning, coordinating several activities and services involved in the parishes’ daily life.

One of the areas Barbosa supervises concerns cultural diversity and work with immigrant communities.

“This area has many immigrants and refugees, especially in poor neighborhoods. There are Hispanics, Haitians, Africans, Asians, and many Brazilians. Planning the work with them is part of our office’s assignments,” he said.

Barbosa described the challenges involved in accompanying those communities. First-generation immigrants often only speak and pray in their native languages. At the same time, they bring with them their own church culture. Mediating such elements has fundamental importance for church work.

In the personal dimension, refugees and immigrants face several difficulties that need to be addressed by their ministers.

“Those people lose their relatives in their original countries and can’t say goodbye, going through extended mourning periods,” he said.

A mounting influx of immigrants and refugees to Massachusetts creates special challenges, Barbosa said.

“A few weeks ago, shelters reached full capacity and people had to be placed in hotels. There are 24,000 people in that situation now,” he said.

The Scalabrinian priests run welcome centers for the newcomers and the Catholic Charities give them support on different levels, he said. Volunteers of the archdiocese conduct pastoral work with those communities, but more people are needed on that front.

“Cardinal O’Malley has been making continuous efforts to pressure the government for policies for the immigrants, including the concession of work permits,” Barbosa said.

Even for well-established immigrants living in the Boston area has not been easy. Over the past few years, the archdiocese has noticed that some communities, including the Brazilian ones, have been moving to further districts within a 50-mile radius due to the escalating housing prices.

“There are 15 parishes with active Brazilian communities, but their configuration has been changing lately,” Barbosa said.

In such a multicultural reality, the work of the Church must be seen in its missionary dimension, the bishop-elect said.

“We can’t think about Catholicism like we used to do decades ago. We’re dealing with an unstable reality and we have to take the Gospel everywhere in order to make our Lord known. We have to understand that we’re missionaries,” he said.