"Go out and be missionary disciples, witnesses of God's love to the world," is what 300 delegates were called to do June 22-24. Thirteen delegates along with Bishop Richard J. Malone and Father Ryszard S. Biernat went to Albany for the Regional V Encuentro. Delegates came together from New York, Rochester, Albany, Brooklyn, Buffalo, Ogdensburg, Rockville Center and Syracuse. Those from our diocese are all very grateful to the Foundation of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo who made it possible for them to attend.
The delegates from our diocese work together with the delegates from the region on the prioritized needs that were chosen by the regional team. The work done in the small groups by the delegates will be sent on to the National V Encuentro team who will come up with a working document for delegates going to the National V Encuentro.
Jorge Silva, one of our delegates, said this of his experience at the Regional Encuentro, "I see this experience as the recognition of the Catholic Church in the United States to the religious wealth that we Hispanics bring. This recognition leads her to support, accompany and encourage the Hispanic community to become more involved in ecclesial life in order to contribute and nurture the pastoral care of the Church here in the United States. My hope is that once the pastoral document is finalized, the communities can have the support of the local pastors to work in the different communities on the pastoral plan, attending to the realities and needs of the church."
Deacon Miguel Santos said the following, "Bishops of every diocese were present and witnessed how we Latinos worship with enthusiasm and filled with the Holy Spirit. We sang our hearts out, danced in the aisles, stomped our feet and clapped our hands. The Spirit was strong! Our bishops saw how faithful we are. We witnessed how our own Latino demographic population has changed as well. New York state's Latino population used to be Puerto Rican and Dominican. We had a huge representation of Mexicans and Central Americans, especially delegates from El Salvador and Guatemala. These populations are also growing in Western New York. When we look into evangelization, we must be conscious of these populations as well."
Each delegate was assigned to one of the topics that were going to be covered as a priority.
Yoharis Montanez also participated as a delegate. Her group worked on Cultural Diversity. "We were able to discuss how we as people of God can unite as one race to worship one God for all regardless of your nationality and your traditions. One thing that we all agreed on was that we have to be open-minded toward others, their traditions, the way they worship God, for we are all different in a way, but we are all the same in Gods eyes. We also have to be very welcoming, friendly and loving to all who enter our churches for we are the face of God here on earth and to some people that could be their first impression of God," she said.
From Sept. 20-23, a delegation of 10, including Bishop Malone will attend the National V Encuentro in Grapevine, Texas.