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V Encuentro: A great adventure for young people
By Mirna Ochoa, YACM

1/10/2017
Perhaps many of you have already heard of the Fifth National Encuentro of Hispanic/Latino Ministry. If you have not heard about it yet, I would like to speak to you a little about what it is and also to present to you the importance that we must give to youth and young adults to participate in this V Encuentro. Outside of participation, it is with great importance and urgency for them to have protagonism in this process.

This is an initiative of the United States Conference Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Archbishop of San Antonio Gustavo Garcia-Siller, MSPS and Auxiliary Bishop of Rockville Centre Nelson Perez tell us in their letter to the Fifth Encuentro: “We are ready to support your leadership in the life and mission of the Church, particularly that of emerging Hispanic/Latino young leaders.”

They also tell us in this letter that “this missionary action seeks to give witness to the kingdom of love, truth and justice that Christ asks us to proclaim, particularly among young people and families living at the peripheries of the Church and society.”

The fifth Encuentro has as its theme Missionary Disciples: Witnesses of God’s Love. Where the process invites us to be a Church in mission (Iglesia en salida), as Pope Francis tells us, “the main goal of the V Encuentro is to discern ways in which the Church in the United States can better respond to the Hispanic/Latinos presence, and to strengthen the ways in which Hispanic/Latinos respond to the call of the New Evangelization as missionary disciples serving the entire Church.”

It has five objectives, where the second objective is to “promote a vision of the Church in mission that develops effective pathways to invite, engage and form Hispanic Catholic youths, young adults, families and lay ecclesial movements to live out their baptismal vocation. This includes the promotion of vocation to the priesthood and consecrated life.” Apart from what the bishops tell us about young people, the same process has a direct objective where it calls us to have the youth play a leading role and be protagonists.

Our Archdiocese has a team, has had four training sessions for parishes and a specific training for young adults. Now, we are in the process of beginning the parish process and the parish Encuentro will be held from January to June 2017. Also, our Archdiocesan Encuentro will be in September 2017. Then in 2018 the regional and national meeting will take place.

I invite you to ask in your parish about the V Encuentro. Especially if teens and young adults are being invited to participate of this process. If the answer you receive is no, let them know that the same bishops of the United States are asking us for youth and young adults to have an integral part in this process.

Your pastor can find more information with the Office of Hispanic Ministry on how your parish can be a part of this process and involve and bring the young people in your parish into this process from the grassroots. For more information, visit vencuentro.org. 

Gabriela Karaszewski is the director of the Archdiocesan Office of Young Adult and Campus Ministry.