By ARCHBISHOP WILTON D. GREGORY, Commentary | Published September 20, 2018 | En Español
The first national Hispanic Encuentro took place in 1972 in Washington, D.C. It was a quite modest undertaking in comparison to the National Fifth Encuentro that will occur in the Diocese of Fort Worth, Texas, in a few days. The first three of these national gatherings all took place in Washington, with the fourth one, Encuentro 2000, held in Los Angeles.
Clearly, the significance of these encounters has increased, as have the vitality and the prominence of the Hispanic community within the life of the Church in the United States. Thousands of people—Hispanic and non-Hispanic—will gather in Grapevine, Texas, to praise God for the multiple gifts that our Hispanic brothers and sisters share so generously with the Church in this nation.
I am pleased to be one of those who will participate in V Encuentro, along with the two dozen delegates who will attend from the Archdiocese of Atlanta. I can personally recall the festive mood of Encuentro 2000 in L.A., as that fine ecclesial community welcomed the delegates, and we all listened attentively to the pastoral vision of our Latino members.
As these national conferences have grown, they remind us all that the Church in the United States has been richly blessed with the faith, the cultures, the hopes and dreams of all those who claim an Hispanic background and who wish to share their magnificent heritages with all of us.
Building upon the prior encuentros and bringing the experiences of Hispanic peoples throughout our nation, those attending the Fifth Encuentro certainly hope to energize the life of the entire church in our nation. We are so richly blessed here in the Archdiocese of Atlanta by the life and faith of our Hispanic sisters and brothers who are present throughout the 69 counties of north and central Georgia. They not only add to our growing population, but they bring us a vision of the Lord’s presence in his Church that is invigorating and buoyant. Their devotional life, their family life and their deep Catholic faith all make us a much more vibrant Church.
Each community that is a part of this local Church has gifts to offer, and each one does so willingly and generously every day. National events such as the Encuentro, the Vietnamese Marian Days and the National Black Catholic Congresses are occasions when different groups of people gather to reflect on their unique identity, to celebrate their cultures and to encourage each other proudly to share their heritages with the entire Church. These are always happy moments for the various communities who engage in these special activities.
V Encuentro provides an opportunity to consider how to promote vocations to the clerical and religious life more effectively and the ongoing need for evangelization efforts. Participants will discuss the development of local leadership, effective responses to the many social challenges faced by the Hispanic community, the strengthening of family life and the multiple ways that this community contributes to the local Churches in the United States of America.
Our delegates will participate in workshops and small group exchanges so that hopefully they will bring back recommendations and strategies that will strengthen this local Church.
Please keep the success of V Encuentro in your prayers.