At Pastoral Congress Mass, V Encuentro delegates sent forth to share the joy of the faith
Friday, Sep. 29, 2017
The V Encuentro delegates receive a cross, blessed by Bishop Oscar A. Solis, at the Pastoral Congress Mass. IC photo/Marie Mischel
DRAPER — An evangelization effort underway in the Diocese of Salt Lake City is joining local Catholics with others across the United States in the V Encuentro (named for the fifth gathering of Spanish-speaking Catholics, who began in 1972 to define their contributions to the U.S. Church). One of the main goals of the V Encuentro is to help all Catholics, not only Hispanics, become missionary disciples, as they are called to do by their baptism and the New Evangelization.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has made the V Encuentro a priority as a way to offer pastoral outreach to the growing numbers of Hispanics in the United States.
The Diocese of Salt Lake City “will offer V Encuentro, or Fifth Encounter, to augment the mission of our local Church,” Bishop Oscar A. Solis said in his keynote address at the Sept. 23 Pastoral Congress. “The process is to engage not only the Hispanics but all the faithful in our parishes in a series of prayer and reflection to experience and witness God’s love for us in order to renew our faith and inflame our hearts.”
The goals of the V Encuentro match those he envisions for the diocese: for Catholics to witness God’s love and have them become missionary disciples of Christ, he said.
The V Encuentro also invites Catholics to leadership development and identification of best ministerial practices in the spirit of the New Evangelization.
“The V Encuentro starts at the grassroots level and calls for the development of resources and initiatives to better serve the fast-growing Hispanic population in the diocese, parishes, ecclesial movements, and other Catholic organizations and institutions,” said Maria Cruz Gray, director of the Diocese of Salt Lake City Office of Hispanic Ministry.
In recent weeks a diocesan team gave bilingual presentations about the V Encuentro to delegates in six parishes in various regions of the diocese. These delegates “took the first step to get involved and decided to accompany everyone celebrating the joy of being a missionary disciple at their own parishes and in the society,” Gray said.
The delegates were selected for participation by their pastor.
The 165 encuentro delegates went through a five-week evangelization process based on five themes: Called to a Loving Encounter with Jesus, With Words and Actions: Do it!, Walking Together with Jesus, Bearing Fruits of New Life and Celebrating the Joy of Being Missionary Disciples.
“Now they can return to the parishes to go and spread the encuentro in our diocese,” said Gray. “This is a way to keep our Church alive, to let everyone know that we all are one, we are all welcome. … There are some people who don’t live their faith because they are scared, they have had bad experiences – we want to gather everyone, to have a good time learning and sharing the joy of the Catholic Church.”
During the Mass at the Sept. 23 diocesan Pastoral Congress, Bishop Oscar A. Solis commissioned the 165 delegates to continue the encuentro efforts in their parishes.
According to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the encuentro process is an essential opportunity for many parishes and dioceses to promote unity, leadership and cross-collaboration.
The V Encuentro is one stage of a four-part process of ecclesial reflection and action. The first phase was parish-level encounters, in which the delegates were prepared and commissioned by Bishop Solis to continue the process. Now the delegates will work in their home parishes and afterward present a report that will include needs, goals, priorities and recommendations. The next step will be regional encounters.
“This is a way to keep our Church alive, to let everyone know that we all are one, we are all welcome,” Gray said.
The process will end with the fifth National Encuentro, scheduled for next September in Grapevine, Texas. Leaders from organizations across the U.S. that directly serve the Hispanic community are expected to attend.