TOROK: Journey to V Encuentro to share new discoveries, experiences

July 10, 2018

Encuentro is a powerful word. It means encounter. When one thinks about the word encounter, one might think of suddenly, and possibly unexpectedly, seeing something new or meeting someone who impacts one in some way. These encounters usually call for sharing the new discovery with others. This has been the process that the many people in the Catholic Church have been experiencing in the last couple of years.

The journey began with participants gathering at parishes for meetings called Encuentros. At those gatherings, parishioners discussed faith, ministerial needs, and their aspirations for ministry. As part of the gatherings, they went out into their neighborhoods and to the peripheries to share the Good News with the marginalized. The participants then came back to the gathered Encuentro to share their experiences and blessings with the parish participants.

Many of these invigorated parish participants were made delegates to the Archdiocesan Encuentro. There they shared faith stories of their encounters and the goodness of humanity. The participants discussed their hopes for ministry in the future and their desires for the youth who will be the leaders of the Church. The results of these thoughts and ideas were compiled into a document that was taken to the Regional V Encuentro held at San Antonio in April of 2018.

The Regional Encuentro brought stirring witness talks about the love of God’s people for each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. One of the speakers was a young man from the Diocese of Amarillo who shared his Encuentro experience that thoroughly rekindled his faith.

He told the assembly about his participation serving the marginalized and how in that experience he encountered the Spirit of Christ in his neighbor and fell deeper in love with Christ. He said this experience of love energized him to continue missionary discipleship in his daily life.

The regional delegates worked together in discussion groups to find commonalities discerned for future ministry efforts and presented them for compiling a Regional Encuentro document. This document will be presented when the journey culminates at the National V Encuentro taking place September of 2018 in Grapevine, Texas.

The V Encuentro website 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/Latino presence, and to strengthen the ways in which Hispanics/Latinos respond to the call to the New Evangelization as missionary disciples serving the entire Church (
While the Encuentro has intentionally motivated the Hispanic/Latino presence, it has been an experience available for anyone who wished to be a part of serving the marginalized and discerning priorities for ministerial needs in the Church.

The beneficiaries of this journey have been varied. Certainly it has been most beneficial to the participants of the Encuentro, bringing renewed vigor for the faithful. Those who were ministered to in the periphery certainly benefited. This work began with the bishops and certainly they have heard the blessings. The bishops have been physically present and listening at the Encuentros and are eager to see how we can continue the journey of Encounter in everyday life. Finally, we will all be beneficiaries of this journey when the recommendations are contributed toward a national working document outlining the pastoral priorities and strategies appropriate to our present reality.

More than 165 dioceses have participated and will be attending the National V Encuentro and more than 100 bishops are expected to lead their delegations to this summit event. We, too, can journey to the V Encuentro. We can journey in prayer with the delegates giving thanks to God for life and for encounters, where we can meet and serve our neighbor and the marginalized, continuing the missionary spirit of the Church. 

Norma Torok is an associate director with the Archdiocesan Office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization.