Christ the King Retreat Center in Buffalo, MN was an exciting place to be on July 13-14, where the first meeting of Diocesan pastoral leaders took place. Twenty Lay Ministers appointed by the Bishops of Region VIII dioceses- South Dakota, North Dakota, and Minnesota, gathered to learn about the process towards the V Encuentro. In attendance, were representatives from the dioceses of Winona-Rochester, New Ulm, Crookston, Fargo and the Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minnesota. All were active and dedicated religious and lay leaders serving in Hispanic Ministry.

Bishop Andrew Cozzens acting as Lead Bishop and Estela Villagrán Manancero as representative of the Anchoring Institution for the V Encuentro were key in the participation and supporting Episcopal Regional Chairs- Carmen Dean and Luz Zagal in coordinating the event. 

Amidst an inviting and collaborative environment we walked through the process together as missionary disciples towards the V Encuentro. Father Anthony Stubeda from the Diocese of New Ulm and Deacon Ramon Garcia from the Archdiocese of St. Paul Minneapolis took us down memory lane through historical accounts of the past sharing the following:

“After the first Encuentro I was very impressed by the letter the bishops wrote regarding The Pastoral Plan in which the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops stated that the Latino Catholics were a blessing for the church in the United States. Especially, the emphasis it placed on working together as Pastoral de Conjunto (working in communion).” –Fr. Tony

 “At Encuentro 2000, I came to know what the cultural reality of the Hispanic community in this country. The most moving was the multicultural experience, the presence of the different races, languages, traditions, clothing and rituals that unites us through great faith. Also, the personal account that a negro person shared of their suffering, much discrimination and racism in grave detail.”

The beautiful message of “Many faces in the house of God” and at the closing with “Now is the time to listen to others”. —Deacon Ramon

Bishop Cozens emphasized: “In this journey process towards V Encuentro, the most important thing to understand is that God has a calling for each and every person as Missionary Disciples, and I invite you to respond to this calling; God knows our particular gifts that correspond to His mission that no one else possesses.”

It is important that we each experience our own personal encounter with God to become missionary disciples and not be afraid to respond to His call.

At this formation gathering model, we have the opportunity to teach our leaders about their mission in the church and the call to be prophets. Because the mission of the prophets is to see, judge, and act with eyes of faith centered around the gospel. We need to be and remain united to walk together on our journey towards V Encuentro. All received this call with much enthusiasm and concluded by inviting everyone to partake in the regional teams by their support and and walking this journey together towards V Encuentro; answering to this call- Rev. Anthony Stubeda, Anisabel Palma, Patricio Peña, Eva Garnica, Leiliani Rodríguez, Mayuli Bades, Hermana Lucy Pérez y Padre Raúl Silva, with this we continue making history.

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