BLOOMFIELD– Delegates from the Archdiocese of Hartford and the Dioceses of Bridgeport, Norwich and Springfield gathered yesterday at the Archdiocesan Center at Saint Thomas Seminary, in Bloomfield, to further the V Encuentro (Fifth Encounter) journey that has been described as one of the most significant pastoral events of the past decades in the U.S. Catholic Church.
The Regional Encuentro, attended by Bishop Caggiano and representatives from the Diocese of Bridgeport, represents one more step towards the National V Encuentro that it will take place in September 20-24 in Grapevine, Texas.
Delegates met for Mass and group discussions on different ministerial topics including immigration, evangelization, sacramental prep, and more.
During the meeting young adults from four dioceses of Region I shared their testimonies about how #VEncuentro is making a difference in their lives.
Inspired by the example of Jesus and the call of Pope Francis, the United States Bishops have called the Hispano/Latino Catholic communities to lead the faithful by example, going out as missionary disciples, reaching out to others and accompanying them in their daily lives and faith.
This is a time to motivate the youth to participate actively in the life of the Church, and to invite them to prepare to become leaders in the faith for the present and future. It is a time to recognize the gifts of the Hispano/Latino community to the Catholic Church in the US and to provide them with the resources and formation to continue their journey of faith.
At the national level, more than 104 diocesan Encuentros have been completed. Earlier this year the Diocese of Bridgeport Encuentro was held at St. Mary Parish in Stamford.
“The Fifth National Encuentro is a process of evangelization, consultation and mission that was officially launched to discern ways for the Church in the United States to help Hispanic Catholics strengthen their response as missionary disciples for the entire Church. These findings will bring increased energy, not only to Hispanic Catholics but to the entire Church in this country,” said Father Gustavo Falla, diocesan vicar for Hispanic Catholics and pastor of both St. Mary and St. Benedict Our Lady of Montserrat parishes in Stamford.
The Diocese of Bridgeport has been involved in the Encuentro process since the First National Encuentro, Encuentro 2000, held in Los Angeles, California, on July 6-9, 2000.
Fr. Falla said it is an opportunity for the Church in the United States to discover ways in which Catholic communities can be one Church yet come from diverse cultures and ethnicities.
Nationwide, 38 percent of adult Catholics identify their ethnicity as Hispanic. In the Diocese of Bridgeport, it is over 20 percent, and nearly 40 percent among young adults.
Forty percent of all growth in registered parishioners in Catholic parishes between 2005 and 2010 was from Hispanic Catholics. In surveys, the vast majority say their faith is an important part of their daily life, and they are proud to be Catholic, Fr. Falla said.
“Every Christian is challenged, here and now, to be actively engaged in evangelization; indeed, anyone who has truly experienced God’s saving love does not need much time or lengthy training to go out and proclaim that love.”
V Encuentro emphasizes personal involvement and evangelization. Described as a process rather than a program, it is designed to lead participants to a personal encounter with Jesus through the implementation of five simple yet profound Bible-based modules on the theme of accompaniment.
“Every Christian is challenged, here and now, to be actively engaged in evangelization; indeed, anyone who has truly experienced God’s saving love does not need much time or lengthy training to go out and proclaim that love.,” said Fr. Falla.
For more information on the V Encuentro visit vencuentro.org.