Energy generated by V Encuentro is still strong

Energy generated by V Encuentro is still strong

National V Encuentro generated a spirit of excitement and optimism among its 3,000 delegates in September 2018 and sense of pride in the Hispanic Catholic community in the United States.

But the event held in Grapevine, Texas, was only one part of the Encuentro process, one that places heavy emphasis on the involvement and follow-up of local church leaders. And the enthusiasm among the delegates of the Diocese of Camden — who have been involved with the Encuentro process since 2016 — is as great as ever. Delegate Marianne Zayas went so far as to call the Encuentro “A New Pentecost.”

Most of the diocese’s 18 delegates met with Bishop Dennis Sullivan at his residence on Feb. 13 to reflect on the experience and share ideas on using its momentum for the benefit of the diocese. (Bishop Sullivan attended the event in Texas and helped lead a workshop there.)

Many of the local delegates said the gathering in Texas, as well as the entire multi-year Encuentro process, has been a personally transformative experience. For some, it has been a chance to renew their faith. Deacon Samuel Soto said he found himself in Christ again, and that the experience has not ended. “It was unforgettable,” he said.

Other talked about the hope they felt when experiencing the vibrancy of Hispanic culture and the enthusiasm of the young people.

Celia Gutierrez said the experience has made her see the church and herself differently, finding new life and new strength in her faith.

A number of pastoral priorities for the nation’s Hispanic Catholics were identified in Texas. Of those, the local delegates feel two are especially important for the church in South Jersey. One priority is the focus on youth and young adults. The other is family life.

The theme of Family Life will undergird the annual program in May for diocesan Hispanic ministry leaders.

The focus on youth is the motivation for an ambitious new initiative in June: a diocesan-wide soccer tournament.

Andres Arango, Bishop’s Delegate for Hispanic Ministry in the Diocese of Camden, said it is “a blessing to see the fruits of the Encuentro.”

Like others, he mentioned the openness and dialogue that took place in Texas, and his confidence in the benefits for the Catholics of South Jersey.

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