These past few years, our diocese has been involved in preparing for the National V Encuentro that will be taking place in Grapevine, Texas this September. The diocesan encuentro team has been working with the parishes at ways to better serve the Hispanic/Latino Catholics in the United States, as the United States Bishops Conference asked us.
The process is one of reaching out to those who are in the peripheries, but also looking at what our parishes and diocese offer the Hispanic/ Latino community today. The team along with the parish delegates will be looking at the hopes and dreams of this community as well as looking at the needs. This will be followed by considering different ways our Church could better serve Hispanics/Latinos in the whole church.
The following are excerpts from the letter written in the V Encuentro Guide by the U.S. Bishops: "The Bishops of the United States are calling all Catholic leaders to listen with profound attention to the needs, challenges and aspirations that the growing Hispanic/Latino population faces in daily life. It especially prepares us as a Church to better recognize, embrace, and promote the many gifts and talents that the Hispanic community shares in the life and mission of the Church and in the society. Throughout the United States millions of Catholics will go forth to encounter Hispanic/Latino brothers and sisters, in thousands of parishes, movements and Catholic organizations. The missionary actions seek to give witness to the Kingdom of love, truth and justice that Christ asks us to proclaim, particularly among young people and families living at the peripheries of the Church and society."
Although this involves a lot of extra work it also is very exciting to see our community reaching out to those who are in the peripheries and also sharing what their parishes already offer in reaching out to the Hispanic Community. The participants in the parish will also look at how our parishes are developing leaders. They will also look at how our parishes could better serve those in their community.
In our diocese, the Office of Cultural Diversity will be gathering all the data we collected from the parishes within the next two weeks and will prepare a report. Each parish will be asked to send 10 delegates to the Diocesan Encuentro which is going to take place on March 17. Bishop Richard J. Malone will be present to listen to the hopes and dreams, what is already happening at their parishes and also the needs of the Hispanic/Latino in our diocese. We have invited various directors from diocesan offices to also come and listen to our findings.
The scripture reading used by V Encuentro process is Luke 24:13-35. The theme for session two is With Words and Actions: Do It! The scripture for that session is Luke 24:17-20. We, as missionary disciples, are called to get involved in the daily lives of the people. Pope Francis in the "Joy of the Gospel" is calling us to touching the suffering flesh of Christ in others.