Hispanics join in national effort Print
Around the Diocese
Written by Kevin Wondrash, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Jul. 27, 2017 -- 12:00 AM
Carlos Hernandez, Hispanic ministry director for the Diocese of Green Bay, stands with Francisco Sanchez from St. John the Baptist Parish in Waunakee and Juan Estrada from Cathedral Parish in Madison during the recent diocesan training session for “V Encuentro” at Holy Name Heights in Madison. (Catholic Herald photo/Kevin Wondrash)

MADISON -- “We are in a very crucial day today,” said Edgar Martinez, positively looking ahead to the start of a training session on July 7 at Holy Name Heights in Madison.

Martinez, member of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Madison, is helping to lead the efforts of the Diocese of Madison’s role in “V Encuentro” -- a series of meetings that will take place over the next few years aimed at getting to know Hispanics and producing more involvement in the Catholic Church of its second largest and fastest growing community.

Encuentro is a national effort on behalf of the Catholic Church in the United States to respond to the needs of Hispanic Catholics and to strengthen the ways in which Hispanics respond to the call to the New Evangelization as missionary disciples serving the entire Church.

Spanish translation
A Spanish version of this article can be read here.

Encuentro means “encounter” and this encuentro is the fifth such series of meetings held in the United States since the first in 1972.

According to the V Encuentro website (https://vencuentro.org), there are more than 38,000 Hispanic Catholics in the Diocese of Madison. That is about 15 percent of the total number of Catholics in the diocese.

The training session’s goal was to bring together the Hispanic ministry leaders from the 16 parishes in the Diocese of Madison that have them. The leaders included priests and laity.

Martinez said the first step in the process is “to organize everyone from the base, from the parish to the diocese and so on.”

‘Ready’ to encounter

The main speaker for the session was Carlos Hernandez, Hispanic ministry director for the Diocese of Green Bay.

Hernandez, along with Cesar Quiroz, also from the Diocese of Green Bay, both spoke during the opening talk, outlining the need and plan for V Encuentro and the day itself.

At times during the opening talk, they both asked those in attendance “¿Estás listos?” meaning “Are you ready?”

They answered in the affirmative, before being asked again, and with more energy, “¿Estás listos?”.

They reciprocated the energy in reaffirming they were ready.

What were they saying they were ready for?

The first thing they were ready for was to learn.

The purpose of the day was to introduce resources and theological principles pertaining to Encuentro to the ministry leaders.

The next thing they promised to be ready for is to take the tools and ideas they were introduced to and bring them to their parish and surrounding communities.

Taking the next steps

“The plan is to reach all of our parishioners, even the ones who are in the margins,” said Martinez.

He commented specifically on Hispanics in farming or rural areas that “are Catholic, but they don’t know the Church.”

The hope is that the parish leaders will create new relationships with those who want to grow with Christ and come closer to being “just one body” and “just one Church.”

As the work gets done in parishes and communities in this diocese and around the country, preparations will be made for regional Encuentro.

Wisconsin is part of Region VII, along with Illinois and Indiana.

Leaders from those three states will be having their Encuentro in December of this year.

It will all lead up to the national event from September 20 to 23, 2018, in Grapevine, Texas.

More than 3,000 delegates from regions across the country are expected to attend.

Following the national V Encuentro event, the four-year process will continue with implementing new policies recommended to the ministries.

Encuentro organizers hope the process will yield an increase in vocations of Hispanics to the priesthood, Religious Life, permanent diaconate, an increase in the percentage of Hispanic students enrolling at Catholic schools, and create a group of Hispanic leaders for the Church, as well as an increase in Hispanics’ sense of belonging and stewardship in the U.S. Church.

Objectives of V Encuentro

According to the V Encuentro website, there are five objectives for the process:

• Call all Catholics in the United States to become authentic and joyful missionary disciples that give witness to God’s Love with a prophetic voice in a culturally diverse Church.

• Provide a renewed ecclesial vision that develops effective pathways to invite, engage, and form Hispanic Catholic youth, young adults, and families to live out their baptismal vocation.

• Invite all Catholic leaders to engage and accompany Hispanic Catholics who find themselves in the peripheries of the Church and society, particularly those who live in at-risk situations and are not actively involved in their faith community.

• Identify and promote opportunities for Hispanic Catholic pastoral leaders to serve at all ministerial levels of the Church and the larger society, and increase the number of protagonists in the New Evangelization.

• Stimulate a new wave of faith formation and leadership development initiatives that prepare Hispanic Catholics to share and celebrate the Good News of Jesus Christ and to become leaven for the reign of God in society

For more information on V Encuentro, go to https://vencuentro.org