Area members of diocesan Hispanic/Latino
communities attend national V Encuentro


By Dave Jolivet
Anchor Editor
davejolivet@anchornews.org

GRAPEVINE, Texas — The very first gathering of Hispanic/Latino Catholics in the United States, I Encuentro, was in 1972, and drew about 250 attendees. Coordinated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the gathering was a process for Hispanic/Latino Catholics to raise their voices, lend their ears, and act on where the Hispanic Church is going in the U.S.; what gifts they bring, and what challenges they face.

Since then, there have been five more national Encuentro events; II Encuentro in 1977; III Encuentro in 1985; 2000 Encuentro in 2000; a Youth Encuentro in 2006, and most recently V Encuentro held in Grapevine, Texas at the end of September, attended by a group of representatives from the Fall River Diocese, part of the delegation from Region I, made up of the archdioceses of Boston and Hartford, and the dioceses of Bridgeport, Conn.; Burlington, Vt.; Fall River; Manchester, N.H.; Norwich, Conn.; Portland, Maine; and Springfield and Worcester, Mass.

Approximately 3,000 members of the Hispanic/Latino communities across the country attended this year’s event.

Father Pregana explained earlier to The Anchor that prior to the national Encuentro there are five local sessions during the year. “The people who attend have five reflections on which to meditate and five themes,” he said. “The gatherings are about prayer and listening to each other.” He said that from the five sessions come the ideas and concerns that make it into each diocese’s document.

The diocesan V Encuentro took place at St. Anthony of Padua Church on Dec. 16, 2017. There were two regional V Encuentros that took place in New England after that, one at La Salette Shrine in Attleboro on March 10 and another in Bloomfield, Conn. on May 12, 2018. In all 698 delegates attended as well as eight bishops.

It was reported that in the New England Region, 10 diocesan Encuentros took place with nearly 2,000 faithful attending.

From the local gatherings, and the diocesan Encuentros, the main areas of new outreach in area dioceses will focus greatly on Hispanic/Latino young adults; people living in housing projects; and homeless people.

The Region I report went on to inform: “The V Encuentro in the New England dioceses was a unique opportunity to connect leaders at various levels regionally in ways that we had not done for a while. It also served as a way to assess the vast difference of experiences in our region.

“We acknowledge that there are many resources among us, including Catholic universities, schools, and organizations that can be more intentionally at the service of the fast-growing Hispanic Catholic population, especially youth and young adult Hispanics/Latinos, and families as well. In some of our dioceses it opened opportunities for new ministries and more personnel to serve the needs of Hispanic/Latino Catholics, and it improved communication and collaboration between the Hispanic Ministry Office and other diocesan offices.”

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Having grown by leaps and bounds over the last half century, the process of Encuentro for Hispanic/Latino ministry according to its website vencuentro.org, “has been deeply ecclesial. It is motivated by reading the signs of the times and convened by the bishops, who call the Hispanic/Latino community to raise their voices. In the context of this dialogue among the bishops and the community, we live a spirit of pastoral ministry illuminated by an ecclesiological communion and missionary vocation that seeks to reach out to those who find themselves estranged from the life and vision of the Church.  The main objective of the process of the Encuentro is to discern the way in which Hispanics/Latinos respond as Church.”

The website also clearly explains the program:

Who participates in the V Encuentro?

All leaders in arch/dioceses, parishes, lay ecclesial movements and other Catholic organizations and institutions are invited to participate by encountering Hispanic/Latino Catholics, particularly those living in the periphery through the missionary process of evangelization and consultation of the V Encuentro.

What is the goal of the V Encuentro?

The main goal of the V Encuentro is to discern ways in which the Church in the United States can better respond to the Hispanic/Latino presence, and to strengthen the ways in which Hispanics/Latinos respond to the call to the New Evangelization as missionary disciples serving the entire Church.

What are the objectives of the V Encuentros?

— Call all Catholic leaders in the United States to become authentic and joyful missionary disciples by giving witness to God’s love with a prophetic voice by encountering their Hispanic brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore embracing the cultural diversity in the U.S. Church;

­— Promote a vision of the Church in mission that develops effective pathways to invite, engage and form Hispanic Catholic youth, young adults, and families and ecclesial movements to live out their baptismal vocation. This includes the promotion of the vocation to the priesthood and consecrated life;

— Invite all Catholic leaders to engage and accompany Hispanic Catholics, particularly the most vulnerable and those who find themselves in the peripheries of the Church and society;

— Identify and promote opportunities for Hispanic Catholic pastoral leaders to serve in leadership positions in the Church and in the larger society, and increase the number of lay and ordained ministers directly engaged in the New Evangelization. This will require dioceses and parishes to receive new leaders and those seeking formation to become leaders; and

— Stimulate a new wave of faith formation and leadership development initiatives that prepare Hispanic Catholics to share and celebrate the Good News of Jesus Christ and to become leaven for the Reign of God in society.

For more information on V Encuentro, visit vencuentro.org.


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