Archbishop José H. Gomez addressed more than 1,000 Catholic lay leaders, clergy and religious from 52 parishes from all regions of the tri-county Archdiocese of Los Angeles, gathered at the Archdiocesan V Encuentro on January 27 at the Pasadena Convention Center.
“Let us walk behind Jesus and take up our cross — following him and to bringing the people of our times to a new encounter with Jesus Christ and the mercy and love of God,” said Archbishop Gomez. “Let us reach out especially to those who are on the “peripheries” — the homeless and the immigrant, the sick and the suffering, the child waiting to be born; the prisoner hoping for a second chance. Let us walk together with Jesus and bring our nation and our world — to the new encounter with Jesus Christ.”
Throughout 2017, the local chapter of V Encuentro developed consultation and evangelization workshops with parish leaders throughout the Archdiocese 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. Saturday’s gathering offered an opportunity for Archdiocesan delegates to reconvene and continue the consultation process until the April regional gathering in Visalia, California, and the National V Encuentro this fall in Grapevine, Texas.
“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, coordinator of the Archdiocesan V Encuentro.
During the day, 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 facilitated the reflection session “Take the Initiative.” “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.”
To date, more than 3,000 participants have finished the V Encuentro process at 65 parishes and ministries of the Archdiocese of LA. The training workshops have included themes such as family ministry in modern times, lifelong faith formation, accompanying the immigrant, current and emerging lay leadership formation, community outreach to the peripheries, access to education, priestly and religious vocations and young adult discernment, and models and methods of evangelization.
“In its spirituality, theological vision, and commitment to engagement with others, especially those on the margins, the V Encuentro calls the entire Church to proclaim the Gospel with creativity and energy suitable for meeting the immense challenges of today’s world,” said Father Figueroa Deck.
Dr. Cecilia Gonzalez-Andrieu, LMU’s theology professor, was another speaker who led a reflection session on the importance of accompaniment in the process of being a missionary disciple, based on a skit she prepared and was performed by children from St. Odilia Parish, showing how people can overcome their fear of sharing God’s love with others.
The Encuentros are supported by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Dating back to 1972, the I Encuentro was thought as a place where lay leaders could express their needs, aspirations and contributions to the Catholic Church. The IV National Encuentro was held in 2000 in Los Angeles.
For more information, visit http://www.la-archdiocese.org/org/ore/Encuentro/Pages/Archdiocesan-Encuentro.aspx, https://vencuentro.org/, or http://www.usccb.org/about/public-affairs/backgrounders/national-encuentro.cfm.
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