For Immediate Release: November 14, 2017
Fifth National Encuentro engages over 250,000 missionary disciples
BALTIMORE—One hundred and sixty-three dioceses have engaged in the Fifth National Encuentro of Hispanic/Latino Ministry. The USCCB V Encuentro initiative is a process of evangelization, consultation and mission that was officially launched last year to discern ways for the Church in the United States to better respond to the ever-growing Hispanic presence, and to help Hispanics Catholics to strengthen their Christian identity and their response as missionary disciples for the entire Church.
This grass-roots effort began at the local parish level in January of this year with over 250,000 missionary disciples, thus far, getting involved, accompanying, bearing fruit and rejoicing with their sisters and brothers in need of hearing the Good News of Jesus Christ. More than 40,000 of these leaders have been selected as delegates to represent their parishes and Catholic organizations in Diocesan Encuentros. These leaders include long standing as well as new emerging leaders that see themselves as missionary disciples, as well as people that were encountered during missionary activities.
As of November 11, 2017, eighty-eight dioceses have completed their consultation process that culminated with Diocesan Encuentros which helped developed a working document for Hispanic Ministry in each diocese. These working documents will help draft reports for the regional phase and will culminate at the V Encuentro National Event to be celebrated September 20-23, 2018 in Grapevine, TX with approximately 3,000 delegates from participating dioceses across the country. After that, a time for reflection on the findings, identification of good ministerial practices and implementation strategies at the local level will follow.
Bishop Nelson Pérez, bishop of Cleveland and chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs, provided a report on the V Encuentro to the Fall General Assembly of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore on November 14, 2017 noting that the initial results count with the participation of about 250,000 missionary disciples, but that number will increase as more reports are submitted. Bishop Pérez informed that there are more than 288 parishes have started Hispanic Ministry as a direct result of the V Encuentro and participants now recognize their baptismal call to missionary discipleship, evangelizing beyond the parish grounds, and serving the whole Church. Many are no longer afraid to invite, give witness, and share their faith with others.
Diocesan Encuentros across the nation have counted with the presence of their Bishop and participants have expressed gratitude that the bishop is becoming more engaged in the Hispanic community. Dioceses have also reported changes to staffing with 35 dioceses hiring pastoral staff for Hispanic ministry, 52 dedicating more time to Hispanic ministry, and 21 hiring support staff. Dioceses reported a total of more than 300 volunteers—an average of about 2 per diocese— enlisted to help with communications and social media. Parishes have also benefited from the process with 30 pastoral positions for Hispanic ministry created in parishes as result of V Encuentro.
Bishop Pérez thanked Bishops for the ways they have embraced and implemented the V Encuentro in their dioceses and they were notified that if they would still like to participate, it is not too late. Pérez stated, “You are more than welcome to come to the V National Encuentro with your delegation even if you have to complete the implementation of the process in your diocese after the National Event.”
“There is no doubt that the Holy Spirit has been quite busy and feeling very much at home in these Diocesan Encuentros,” said Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San Antonio and chairman of the USCCB Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church, which is responsible for this initiative on behalf of the U.S. bishops. “There are plenty of stories and visible signs that the personal and pastoral conversion that our Holy Father speaks of in The Joy of the Gospel, has been taking place in these gatherings in dioceses across the United States.”
The V Encuentro calls for the development of resources and initiatives to better serve the fast-growing Hispanic population in dioceses, parishes, ecclesial movements, and other Catholic organizations and institutions while at the same time promoting the development of Latino leadership within the Church.
Keywords: USCCB, U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, November meeting, Fall General Assembly, Baltimore, Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church, cultural diversity, multicultural, Hispanic, Latino, Bishop Nelson Pérez, Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs, Fifth National Encuentro of Hispanic/Latino Ministry, Pope Francis, V Encuentro, Missionary Disciples: Witnesses of God’s Love, missionary, evangelization.
Patricia Jiménez, D.Min