Archbishop José H. Gomez joined bishops from throughout California, Nevada and Hawaii to lead delegations of Catholic leaders for the regional V (Fifth) Encuentro gathering at the Visalia Convention Center April 27-29.
The regional V Encuentro convened a historic ecclesial gathering of more than a 1,000 Hispanic Ministry leaders/delegates from dioceses, ecclesial movements, schools, universities and Catholic organizations from the three states. The selected delegates representing 14 dioceses have participated in the local process over the past couple of years.
The regional gathering was part of the national V Encuentro, a four-year process of evangelization, mission and consultation under the theme Missionary Disciples: Witnesses of God's Love. This year’s theme was inspired by Pope Francis' Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel). The process has been the catalyst for developing ministries in the Church throughout the nation during the past fifty years.
The goal of the V Encuentro is to discern ways in which the Church in the United States can better respond to the Latino Catholic community, strengthen the ways in which the local Church responds to the needs of all the faithful, and empower the faithful to be leaders in their communities as missionary disciples. The regional V Encuentro process was one of listening and discerning the voices from all the diocesan processes of V Encuentro reflections.
Throughout 2017, the local chapters of V Encuentro developed consultation and evangelization workshops with parish leaders throughout their respective dioceses to reflect on the process and discern ways of becoming missionary disciples to strengthen the entire Church by serving all its members, especially the underserved.
“The vision of V Encuentro is to become more aware of God’s love in our lives and to share it with others, especially those most in need,” said Ernesto Vega, Communications Chair for the Region XI V Encuentro Gathering.
During diocesan V Encuentro gatherings participants shared testimonials of healing, conversion and incorporation to the Church based on the opportunities they have had during the V Encuentro trainings to serve people in need.
“The V Encuentro is a wake-up call for all Catholics, but especially our Hispanic/Latino communities to become agents of renewal for Church and society,” said Jesuit Father Allan Figueroa Deck, a theologian from Loyola Marymount University who spoke at V Encuentro Diocesan Gathering in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and also to delegates at the regional gathering. “For fifty years, the Encuentro processes have contributed a strong pastoral and social justice agenda to the Church in the United States, one that resonates perfectly with Pope Francis’ call for pastoral conversion and missionary discipleship.”
The Encuentros are supported by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Dating back to 1972, the first Encuentro was thought as a place where lay leaders could express their needs, aspirations and contributions to the Catholic Church. The last national IV Encuentro was held in 2000 in Los Angeles.
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