National V Encuentro Webinar Hope for Community of Faith
By Margarita Mendoza, El Observador Editor
October 22, 2020
DIOCESE—The Diocese of Rockford participated in a National Encuentro in-service discussion Oct. 9-10. 
It “was a wonderful opportunity for our diocese to learn, share, pray, celebrate, and grow in missionary discipleship,” said John Jelinek, director of  Religious Education and Formation. 
Held shortly after a Sept. 26 virtual V Encuentro for Region 7 — Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin — it was another opportunity to discuss ministerial topics such as youth, family, vocations and evangelization. 
Participants are looking “forward to the fruits the National Encuentro will produce in the Kingdom of God,” Jelinek said, and that different diocesan offices will apply in years to come. 
One of the most motivating moments was a replay of a message from Pope Francis, originally sent Sept. 19, 2018, for the national V Encuentro held in Grapevine, Texas.
The pope discussed the importance of having subsequent events to communicate, create and put into use plans for a better Catholic Hispanic Church. 
“It is a historic moment for the Church in the United States,” when Catholic Latino representatives from the dioceses around the U.S. come together to talk about their concerns as a community of faith, he said. 
“Throughout this V Encuentro you seek to create a culture of encounter that rekindles hope by gathering with people from different cultures, different ways of living, of thinking, of feeling. You encounter one another and walk together in hope. You have set out to achieve a different way of being and relating,” said Pope Francis. 
He also assured his “personal closeness and prayers for this important initiative of the (U.S.) bishop’s conference.”  
Participants, such as Msgr. Arquimedes Vallejo, vicar for Hispanic Ministry and coordinator for V Encuentro in the Rockford Diocese, were pleased to have religious and lay people continuing the conversation about Hispanic Catholics in the Catholic Church in the U.S. through this fifth Encuentro.
“I’m amazed about the presentation,” he said. 
It was an encouraging occasion, “to be the leaders in the pastoral sense, religious sense, in the faith, in the social, in everything, we can make a difference in this world,” Msgr.Vallejo said.  
 He was in the group who spoke about the “need for vocations for the priesthood, the religious life, especially in the middle of this pandemic” because now is when more people “need help in the spiritual life,” he said.  
In order to address that challenge, the idea is to “create a religious atmosphere in the family, in the school and in the Church, in order for young people to start thinking of the option of religious life or marriage life,” he said.
Jennifer Collins, director of the Life and Family Evangelization Office, said, “This is an important opportunity for Catholic ministry leaders from around the country to come together (virtually) to listen, learn about, and discuss these significant topics.”  
She is also “grateful that the Diocese of Rockford is participating in this process, and I hope this will provide us with the direction and encouragement to continue to have these important conversations locally.”
The pandemic has affected the world in many ways, and among those most affected are young people, particularly Latinos. 
That is why “the presence of our Church it is important to help in spiritual and material ways,” said Bishop Oscar Solis from the Diocese of Salt Lake. He spoke to Catholic young people at this national event. 
On the other hand, Jessica Hernández, coordinator of Hispanic Youth Ministry from the Diocese of Des Moines in Iowa, said that “one of the most common complaints of the youth is that they feel that they “don’t belong” in this culture. 
She advises them “to heal” their feelings, and believe they fit because they are welcome in the Church. Also, she encouraged them to ask themselves, “ ‘What is God calling us to?’ instead of (asking) ‘Who am I?’ ”
Considering that abortion is not a solution to problems of unexpected pregnancies, Nicole Moore, executive director of the Crisis Pregnancy Center in Manhattan, explained that “some Latinas don’t have access to health care, and they need care.” 
Also, some don’t even “know about female biology,” nor about “alternatives of abortion,” and the many services, such as “ultrasounds, housing (food, clothing) and help for women and babies.” 
Additional delegates from the Diocese of Rockford during the October sessions were Sister Irma Luna, OpSF, and Sister Ventura Chavez, OpSF, both of St. Nicholas Parish in Aurora; Verónica Sainz, administrative assistant, Hispanic Ministry; Julieta Jacobo, evangelization coordinator at St. Rita of Cascia, Aurora; Humberto Cervantes from St. Mary Parish in Woodstock and Margarita Mendoza, El Observador editor.


Shop Religious items at HOLYART.COM