Encuentro to foster evangelization

By Jake Samour
The V (fifth) Encuentro will be held this year at St. Andrew Parish in Independence.
One of the reasons and objectives of the V Encuentro process is to encourage the Catholic faithful to listen with deep attention to the needs, challenges, and aspirations of the growing Hispanic population all over the United States. Above all, it prepares us as a church to better recognize, embrace, and promote the many gifts and talents that Hispanic people share in the church and in society.
The Encuentro process is a national initiative conducted for the first time in 1972, and most recently in 2000. Each event has had the objective of discerning how to serve the Hispanic population in the United States. Today, however, many Hispanics are not taking their faith seriously, and they constitute a large percentage of Catholics in the United States.
There are a number of parishes where the majority of parishioners are Hispanics who did take the initiative seriously. The process, which included five meetings, ended with much success, both in Wichita and in Southeast Kansas.
The V Encuentro has given participants the opportunity to prepare themselves to be true Missionary Disciples: witnesses of God’s Love. It has been an excellent process of listening and of consultation. At the same time, folks experienced the need to unite in prayer to reach the peripheries of our diocese to attract those who have not had a personal encounter with Christ and his church. It also helped remove fears and lent support to families and young people.
The five central themes of the consultation process conducted last year were born out of a desire to have more clarity on how to reach people in the peripheries, find out how they view the church, and how people find Jesus Christ in their daily lives.
The process has taken into account that one can reach people and talk to them about Jesus, only if they first listen to their hopes and aspirations, their sufferings – what breaks people’s hearts today, especially among the young. We also challenge these same people to ask how God wants us to commit ourselves and be witnesses to the Kingdom of God that he is building in our midst.
The Encuentro will be a culmination of all the meetings. At the same time, it will be a preparation for the regional Encuentro in April in Kansas City, and the national Encuentro, in Grapevine, Texas, next September.
We continue on our way in the spirit of Emmaus, with our hearts burning within us, to evangelize, to proclaim the Good News and to take Jesus Christ to an encounter with others.
As we prepare for the diocesan Encuentro, we recognize that we are not an island; we are not a different church. We are one family in Christ and together, through the holy Eucharist, proclaim one church, one faith and one Jesus Christ. We invite all our brothers and sisters in our Diocese to join us in prayer for the success of the Encuentro process.
Samour is the director of the Office of Marriage and Family Life.

Want to attend the Encuentro?
The Diocesan V Encuentro, which will be conducted in Spanish, will take place Saturday, March 17, at St. Andrew Parish in Independence. For more information, call the Office of Hispanic Ministry at 316-269-3919.