Southeast Regional Encuentro

The Regional Encuentro has been a tradition in the Southeast for over four decades. Every two years it has been hosted in the Diocese of St. Agustine, FL and in the Regional Encuentro towards the V Encuentro it was hosted in Our Lady of Guadalupe, Doral, FL. This due to COVID-19 could not be postponed but had to take a different setting. The Regional Southeast Encuentro was held virtually, with the same charism and dynamism present in all those who participated.  On both days the morning sessions were attended by Diocesan Directors for Hispanic Ministry and Pastoral Juvenil Coordinators; the evenings were for Diocesan Delegates.  In the following pages you will find a summary of what happened during those days. The total number of participants was 180 representing 24 dioceses.

September 29, 2020

The morning session begun promptly at 10:00 am with an opening prayer. The group of Diocesan Directors of Hispanic Ministry and Pastoral Juvenil was sent to share the word  like the two disciples of Emmaus. At their return they were welcomed by Father Sergio Serrano, OP Diocesan Director of New Orleans who closed this moment of prayer with a short reflection.  The agenda this morning was introduced by Father Emilio Sotomayor, Sch.P Executive Director of SEPI who continued sharing a reflection centered on Accompaniment in the present times. The group was divided into breakout sessions where they had the opportunity to share echoes of the presentation.

The morning continued with a presentation by Fr. Rafael Capo, Vice-President of Mission for St. Thomas University and previous SEPI Executive Director. His presentation was an excellent briefing on the process of the V Encuentro and where are we on its regards.

Later on SEPI team introduced “Insights on Methodology of See, Judge, Act applied to Evangelization and Acompanamiento in the Context of Pastoral Planning.” After this presentation there were breakout groups to discuss on the Best Practices for Evangelization and Acompanamiento, followed by a common sharing. The morning ended with a closing prayer by Fr. Emilio.

The evening session was with the Diocesan Delegates who were introduced and welcome by Fr. Rafael Capo. There were 24 dioceses present at this virtual Encuentro. Archbishop Cristophe Pierre send his message pre-recorded in advance. His message was inspiring and uplifting, a call to renew the Dream of Pope Francis of a Missionary Church that is not afraid to go out and embrace the poor and become poor, one that is afraid to express God’s tenderness. The 180 participants had the opportunity to be divided into breakout sessions to discuss best practices in the area of Accompaniment and Evangelization.

September  30, 2020

The second morning of the regional encuentro centered on Pastoral Juvenil and Family Ministry. The morning begun with a prayer led by Mrs. Blanca Primm, Diocesan Director of Knoxville,TN and Ibis Centeno, Pastoral Juvenil Coordinator for the Diocese of Charlote, NC. The day continued with a presentation of SEPI’ Future Projects and Action plans by Fr. Emilio Sotomayor, Sch.P. and continued with his reflection on Family Ministry and Pastoral Juvenil.

After his presentation Juan Jose Rodriguez, MA from SEPI team shared the process of the Book of La Pascua Juvenil as a methodology of See, Judge, Act applied to pastoral Juvenil. The group of Diocesan Directors and coordinators of Pastoral Juvenil was divided into breakout sessions to share their best practices on pastoral Juvenil.

The next presentation was lead by Mrs. Lucia Baez Luzondo from the Archdiocese of Atlanta. Their presentation centered on utilizing the Methodology of See, Judge, Act in the context of Pastoral Planning on Family Ministry. After their presentation, the group was once again divided into breakout sessions to discuss the best practices on Family Ministry. Father Emilio closed this part of the day in prayer.

During the Evening the delegates were welcomed by Mrs. Eva Gonzalez, Diocesan Director for Louisville, KT and Coordinator for Region V for the V Encuentro as well as Mrs. Vivi Iglesias, Community Engagement Manager with the Southeast Regional Office and Coordinator for Region XIV for the V Encuentro. Archbishop Thomas Wenski, of the Archdiocese of Miami and Chairman of the Southeast Regional Office for Hispanic Ministry (SEPI); continued with a presentation on Pastoral Juvenil and Family Ministry in the context of the present change of times. His presentation was inspiring and moving.

After his presentation, there was a panel of four people. Their testimonies lit up the night, it was felt when the Delegates were divided into breakout sessions and they shared on the best practices for the areas of Family Ministry and  Pastoral Juvenil.

The plenary was filled with great hope as some of the delegates got to share what they had discussed in their groups.

The Encuentro concluded with a prayer lead by Fr. Emilio Sotomayor, Sch.P, sending all delegates to not be afraid to be Missionary Disciples, to be Light and Salt of the earth. It was joyful to end this evening singing together with Iván Díaz, Contemporary Catholic Singer, composer of “Nuestra Alegria”, the song that became the hymn for the V Encuentro

October 1st

There was a one-hour meeting that welcomed Archbishops, bishops, clergy, diocesan staff and leaders from the Southeast Region. This meeting was completely in English.

After the welcoming by Fr. Emilio Sotomayor, the meeting began with a prayer led by Msgr. Thomas Rodi, Archbishop of Mobile. The first in taking part was Fr. Rafael capo, who recalled the process in the V Encuentro and the stage we are in.

Then, Bishop Felipe Estevez, representing the bishops of the XIV region and Bishop John Stowe representing region V explained the hopes and vision of the V Encuentro from the perspective of the Bishops.

The Encuentro continued with presentations on three ministerial areas: Family Ministry (Lucia Baez Luzondo from Atlanta), Pastoral Juvenil (Brittany Garcia from Knoxville) and intercultural competences (Carlos Flores from St. Petersburgh).

After a moment of Q&A, the meeting concluded with a closing prayer and the singing of “Nuestra Alegria” hymn of the region for the V Encuentro.

There was a sense of renewal and a refreshing desire to continue in the journey of working together. A great part of conclusion for the Encuentro was the commitment to strenghten three ministerial areas as priority in the Southeast. These ministerial areas will be: Family Ministry, Vocations, Migrant Ministry.