Currently, parishes throughout the Diocese of Camden are preparing for 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. In May, each parish will hold its own Encuentro event, before a larger diocesan gathering later this year.
At seven parishes of Deanery 5, which covers Cape May and Cumberland counties, churches are gathering together weekly Christian communities for discernment, prayer, evangelization and catechesis.
In this deanery is Bridgeton’s Holy Cross Parish, with Sister Graciela Rosas, MDPVM in charge of her parish’s Encuentro, bringing her great experience as participant of two previous national Encuentros of Hispanic Ministry, in 1977 and 1985.
“Everybody’s excited, and eager to do it with all of our hearts,” she says of the 500 people, young and old, actively taking part in the sessions at Holy Cross. There is energy being created in these individuals, who work in such varied departments at the parish such as youth ministry, evangelization and hospitality.
“The goal is for all of us to become missionary disciples, and witnesses of the love of God,” she remarked, adding that before these Encuentro activities even began, parishioners would start every Sunday morning at 9 a.m., two by two, to knock on doors and evangelize around Bridgeton.
“The more you know Jesus, the more you want to go and tell people about him,” she said.
In addition to the involvement of the parish’s mostly Hispanic faithful, there are some English-speaking individuals who have been providing input into the process, contributing to the “richness” of the endeavor, she said.
Sister Graciela knows the excitement and faith being fostered in her church can only build up the surrounding community, and “bring more peace to the area.”
“This is the work of Jesus, who has invited us to do it. He is walking with us,” she said.