V Encuentro Ready To Move Forward
By Margarita Mendoza, El Observador Editor
October 15, 2020
CHICAGO—As the processing of conclusions from the 2018 national V Encuentro continues around the nation, a regional session, called an in service, was held Sept. 26 online.
About 100 people from Region 7, which includes Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, took part.
Bishop Alberto Rojas, a former auxiliary bishop from Chicago and now coadjutor bishop for the Diocese of San Bernardino, and Bishop James T. Schuerman, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, also joined the online discussion.
No matter the age, U.S. Hispanic Catholic youth have similar characteristics, such as language and culture. Some of the youth are completely bilingual and bicultural. 
Young people who were born in other countries, having been in the U.S. for a while, are learning the language and the culture of their adopted country. Some born in the United States still speak more Spanish than English and vice versa. 
V Encuentro background
Since 1972, the Hispanic Catholic community — clergy and lay delegates — in the United States have gathered in national Encuentros to share their needs, aspirations, strengths and weaknesses, among other concerns.
The most recent, in 2018, was the fifth (V) gathering  — or encounter of representatives from dioceses around the country.
The V Encuentro began on the parish level, and their conclusions were brought to the diocesan level, then to regional and finally to the national level, before returning to the parish level and continuing in a circular manner back to the national level. 
“We also need to include those with special needs,” said Verónica Sainz from the Hispanic Ministry Office, who participated in the group that discussed youth. 
“Each of these groups of youth must be evangelized in a different way according to their needs so that they may feel included and understood,” she said. “Therefore, one of the conclusions in that task group was: it is ‘essential to have a coordinator for Hispanic youth ministry in each diocese.’ ” 
Most dioceses have volunteers working with youth, “and to make the necessary connections, participate in retreats, you need a dedicated person,” said Edith Torres from the Diocese of Lafayette. Involving parents in this process is also vital. It was one of the conclusions of the Youth and Young Adults pastoral group.
In her diocese, Torres said, they “started a small group of five young leaders” in the parishes, who go to the diocese and put themselves in the service of all the young people. They developed their leadership according to their gifts and talents.
Msgr. Arquímedes Vallejo, Vicar for Hispanic Ministry and coordinator for V Encuentro in the Rockford Diocese was part of the vocations discussion. We “need everyone to pray for vocations and urge parents to speak to their children about religious vocations,” he said. 
“A general campaign should be implemented,” he said, adding it is important for all to see “the joy of religious life, which fills our hearts with joyfulness, which is a great motivation for young people.”
Liturgy and spirituality
Sister Ventura Chávez, OpSF, of St. Nicholas Parish in Aurora, was part of the discussion of liturgy and spirituality. She said they spoke of the need to “demonstrate and promote with fervor ... the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. It is worrying what the statistics say ... (about) our Catholic brothers who attend holy Mass ... (including) a very high percentage that deny the presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the consecrated host.” 
Her group also noted, she said, that “to deny Eucharistic Theology is to deny the existence of the Church of Christ.” Therefore, “it is time to carry out an intense regional crusade with priests, religious men and women, seminarians, deacons and laity committed, and be prepared to assume with love this difficult task, one with an epic nature.”
She also mentioned a Bible enthronement in homes was discussed. The idea is that each priest visits each Latino family to inculcate in them a life of family prayer. Each home is “a little domestic Church.” In addition to that, dioceses and parishes should continue the “liturgical formation of the priests of our region using, for example, Lectio Divina as a method.” 
“Dec. 12 is a date of extraordinary celebration ... that today exceeds the limits of its own origin,” she added. “The Anglo community is gradually joining us celebrating Our Lady of Guadalupe. This dedication has been one of the strongest symbols of union of the Mexican brothers and today it is emerging as a powerful symbol of unification of the different cultures that we share in this American soil.”
Faith and catechesis
“Our diocese is at the forefront in Hispanic matters related to faith formation and catechesis,” said Julieta Jacobo, Evangelization Ministry coordinator at St. Rita of Cascia in Aurora. “Other dioceses in Region 7 see our diocese (as one) they can turn to and have as a model in relation to the training of catechists and parents of children who attend our religious education classes.” At the same time, she added,  “All this about the V Encuentro was new for me. I had read the document and the drafts but I had never before participated in the workshops or meetings.”
Leadership and training
Humberto Cervantes, from St. Mary in Woodstock, said that it was a “beautiful experience seeing many lay people in action for the Gospel who are united and collaborating with our bishops, priests, deacons, men and women religious for the service of the community. I learned that we are not alone in the struggle to make disciples and to improve the services, that our communities need to be part of the mystical body of Christ, and it reminded me of the holy Scriptures, Matthew 28:19-20 — the universal mission that we all have as baptized.”
Kassandra Salgado, delegate from the Life and Family Evangelization Office for the Diocese of Rockford said, “The V Encuentro in-service of Region 7 was very revealing. It was nice hearing from our neighboring dioceses, and I can’t wait to see how the strategies discussed will help us reach out to Hispanic families. 
“The bottom line is that there is much to be done in the evangelization process,” she added. “There is a need for resources and priests to serve the growing Latino community.” 
Representatives of each participating diocese agreed on the need to share ideas about evangelization of the Church created by Jesus. 
On Oct. 8-9, a national session of V Encuentro participants was held online. It was a discussion of the feedback generated around the nation from all the regional, diocesan and parish in-services held since July 2019. (Look for a story in a future edition.)
“The pastoral panorama of the Church and society has experienced seismic changes this year amid the continuous development of the crisis of the pandemic,” says the V Encuentro website https://vencuentro.org/virtual-diocesan-in-service/
“The purpose of this national event is to complete the sixth Milestone of the V Encuentro process:
 visualize the future of Hispanic/Latino ministry,
 help dioceses and organizations identify, create, or fine-tune their pastoral responses at the local level,
 rejoice in the fruits of the V Encuentro and our Catholic faith,
 be sent forth once again as joyful missionary disciples.” 
The “update at the regional level, ... will be shared with the national team to develop in the next two years the national Hispanic pastoral plan, as a result of the V Encuentro, which is the voice of the people to be recognized as a calling in the Catholic Church in the United States,” said Javier Castillo, deputy coordinator of Region 7.
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