Diocese of Madison delegates attend National V Encuentro for Hispanic Ministry Print
Around the Diocese
Written by Edgar Martinez, For the Catholic Herald   
Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018 -- 12:00 AM
The three delegates from the Diocese of Madison pictured on registration day at the National V Encuentro are, from left: John Rojas, Fr. Jorge Miramontes, and Edgar Martinez. They are standing in front of the Gaylord Texan Resort Hotel and Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas. (Contributed photo)

GRAPEVINE, Texas -- Delegates from the Diocese of Madison joined over 2,700 National Delegates who came from all regions of the United States in order to represent their respective dioceses at the National V Encuentro (Fifth National Gathering of Hispanic/Latino Ministry) sponsored by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). It was held in Grapevine, Texas, from September 20 to September 23.

With the full support of Most Reverend Robert C. Morlino, Bishop of Madison, Fr. Jorge Miramontes, Mr. Edgar Martinez, and Mr. John Rojas were able to be present during these four days of intense activity to represent the Diocese of Madison.

Four-year process

This event is the result of four years of intense planning and preparation focused on the theme “Discípulos Misionerios: Testigos del Amor de Dios” (“Missionary Disciples: Witnesses of God’s Love”). Indeed, the goal of this process is to discover ways that the Catholic Church can be more responsive to the needs of Hispanic Catholics and to empower and encourage the Hispanic Catholics to be more involved in the Church’s work of evangelization.

The Encuentro event unfolded beautifully. Firstly, after the Welcome and the Opening Prayer, His Holiness Pope Francis surprised the attendees with an unexpected seven-minute recorded greeting with the following introduction

Pope Francis said, “Dear brother bishops and delegates to the Fifth National Encuentro of Hispanic/Latino Ministry, I am overjoyed to speak to you on this occasion. It is a historic moment for the Church in the United States. Through this Fifth Encuentro, you seek to create a culture of encounter that rekindles hope. By gathering with people from different cultures, different ways of living, of thinking, of feeling — you encounter one another and walk together in hope.”


A special highlight of the National V Encuentro was the participation of four cardinals, a dozen or so archbishops, over 125 bishops, and hundreds of priests who were there as “shepherds living with the smell of the sheep.” In addition, there were lay leaders and over 200 volunteers to serve the participants.

Format of Encuentro

During these four days, the participants followed the very same format established for all of the previous Encuentro events lived in our parishes and dioceses. Thus, the national delegates registered and received the National Working Document as the central part of the received materials.

An opening procession, arranged by region, was the preamble of the event. Then, the welcome and the opening prayer were given by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the USCCB, and by the host of the event, Most Reverend Michael Olson, Bishop of Fort Worth.

The video message of Pope Francis followed, and the first day finished with the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, inviting the delegates to “go forth out of our comfort zone and become leaven of communion.” Archbishop Pierre accompanied the participants during the entire four days.

The first plenary session was held on Friday morning (“By Word and Deed”). It was followed by regional breakout sessions as part of a conversation process for discussing “The Hopes and Dreams of the Hispanic community” and “The Gifts and Talents of Hispanics.”

Spearheaded by Most Reverend Alberto Rojas, an Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago, our Region VII focused its discussion by asking how our Church should inspire and help our community based on our core strengths: the concept of family and the energy of our young people.

At midday Friday Mass, the homilist, Bishop Daniel Flores said, “And here we are, Lord. Stay with us because it grows late. Teach us again how to be accompanied by you, and how to accompany one another in the itinerary of the pilgrim Church today. And teach us to accompany those who have not met you, so that through our poor presence they might feel your closeness . . . ”

Pastoral care/outreach

In the afternoon, the second plenary was held, and afterwards, the second and final segment of the regional conversation process (“Accompanying Everyone”) focused on the prioritization of the pastoral care of the Church and the outreach to the Latino community in the peripheries.

The delegates also discussed how to adapt pastoral ministries and practices to fully integrate the Latino people into the life and leadership of the community.

At the end of the work day, the third plenary session was held regarding regional reporting. Afterwards, the bishops shared dinner with youth and assisted them to seek ways to put themselves at the service of humanity. Over 700 young people attended the dinner.

On Saturday 23, the day opened with a Rosary and Morning Prayer with Cardinal Blasé Cupich, who stated, “There is a new birth happening in the Church of our country these days. It is a new birth that comes with the impact of the Latino experience.”

‘Bearing Fruit’

That was followed by the fourth plenary session and then an Inter-Regional Breakout (“Bearing Fruit”) session in which participants identified ways to strengthen the pastoral response to Hispanics.

Fr. Jorge Miramontes chose Liturgy and Spirituality for these Inter-Regional conversations, Mr. Edgar Martinez went to Leadership Development and Ministry Formation, and Mr. John Rojas attended Faith Formation and Catechesis.

Following this activity, the Saturday midday Mass was celebrated and presided by Cardinal Sean O’Malley, who stressed in his Marian homily the “Yes” of Our Lady, relating this historic and salvific “Yes” with our very own “yes” in this new phase of evangelization.

Then, a plenary session called “A Church that Bears Fruit” was held, followed by a new breakout session centered on “best practices” categorized by ministerial areas and the respective recommendations for each ministerial area.

The National Work Document had identified 28 ministerial areas, and Diocese of Madison delegates attended Liturgy and Spirituality, Development and Ministry Formation, and Faith Formation and Catechesis.

In the plenary session held on Sunday morning, the three main Ministerial Areas chosen through this process of four days were: Family Ministry, Youth Ministry and Young Adult Ministry, and Leadership Development and Ministry Formation.

The Sunday Mass (“Celebration to Mission”) closed the National Encuentro. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo celebrated the Mass, but the homilist was Archbishop Jose Gomez, who stated, “Brothers and sisters, you are being called to lead — not through the desire for power. You are called to lead by your holiness. True unity in the Church will only come about if every one of us — clergy and laity — are striving to be holy as God is holy.”

What’s next?

What’s next? The National Encuentro Core Team will distribute a concluding document listing the main priorities and problems identified across 28 ministry areas.

This document will be the basis for dioceses and parishes to draft their own pastoral plans.

Click here for the Spanish version of this article.

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