Parishes throughout the Diocese of Camden are hosting small Christian communities in the process of the V Encuentro of Hispanic Ministry.
One of them, Blackwood’s Saint Jude Church, Our Lady of Hope Parish, provides services to the Latino community living in Camden and Gloucester counties, along with five other parishes in deanery 2 (east Camden county) and deanery 3 (Gloucester and Salem counties).
In May, Our Lady of Hope Parish will hold its V Encuentro gathering, bringing the faithful together for a day of reflection, sharing and leadership development on the best ministerial practices for Hispanic Catholics.
Father Rene Canales, parochial vicar for the parish and the regional Vicar for Hispanics, couldn’t be happier.
The event, and these weeks leading up to it, are a time for Hispanic Catholics to “realize what they have to offer, and the gift and talents that they can bring to the church. At the same time, it is an opportunity to discover what their spiritual and social needs are, and how the church can help them,” he says.
Our Lady of Hope, and other parishes in the Diocese of Camden, are participating in the V Encuentro, a four-year process of ecclesial reflection and action that calls on Hispanics to missionary activity, consultation, leadership development, and to the identification of best ministerial practices in the spirit of the new evangelization.
During this season of Lent, parishes are holding weekly sessions, in preparation to host their own V Encuentro, before a larger diocesan program later this year.
Sixty-70 individuals, ranging in age from teens to senior citizens, and coming from such places as Sicklerville, Williamstown and Washington Township, in addition to Blackwood, meet weekly at Saint Jude Church, discussing the different themes for the Encuentro.
This week and last week, Father Canales and the parish teams focused on being “Called to a Loving Encounter with Jesus in the Church,” reading and reflecting on Luke’s Gospel passage that tells of Jesus’ encounter and comforting of the fearful and anxious disciples on the way to Emmaus.
“It’s a joyful time in the church” for Hispanics, he said.