Diocese begins preparing for V Encuentro

By Catholic Spirit Staff 

In a little more than two years, Texas will host the V Encuentro gathering for Hispanic leaders from across the U.S. The theme for the gathering is “Missionary Disciples: Witnesses of God’s Love,” and it will be held Sept. 20-23, 2018, in Grapevine (near Dallas). 
The V Encuentro is a four-year process of reflection and action that invites all Catholics in the U.S. to intense missionary activity, consultation, leadership development and identification of best ministerial practices in the spirit of the New Evangelization. The main goal of the V Encuentro is to discern ways in which the church in the U.S. can better respond to the Hispanic/Latino presence, and to strengthen the ways in which Hispanics/Latinos respond to the call to the New Evangelization as missionary disciples serving the entire church. 
The V Encuentro process began in 2014, with the formation of a national team and the establishment of guidelines for the process as well as the configuration of regional teams. Bishop Joe Vásquez is the lead bishop for Region X, which is made up of the dioceses in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. 
In the Diocese of Austin, a team of leaders from across various diocesan offices and ministries has been established to discern how the diocese should invite all Catholics to respond to the V Encuentro call. 
Edgar Ramirez, the diocesan director of Hispanic Ministry, is leading the diocesan efforts to support the V Encuentro. 
“The process of Encuentro has been the catalyst for developing ministries among Hispanics/Latinos during the last 50 years,” he said. “Each of the previous Encuentros has helped significantly change the way the church responds to the Hispanic/Latino presence, and the way in which Hispanics/Latinos respond as church.” 
Currently, Ramirez and the diocesan V Encuentro team are discerning the addition of more leaders to the team in order to fully engage people from across the diocese on this process. The next gathering of the V Encuentro diocesan team will be a retreat in June at Cedarbrake Retreat Center in Belton. In the next few weeks, the diocesan V Encuentro team will invite all parishes and ministries to discern their participation in the V Encuentro process. Then, the diocesan team will begin the training of parishes on the V Encuentro process.
Dorothy Polchinski, the diocesan associate director for Evangelization, admitted she was a “little intimidated” to be on the planning team at first, but has settled into her role as she has learned more about the V Encuentro process.
“As I have worked with the diocesan team and with each stage in the process, I become more excited and joyful at this opportunity to empower all Catholics but especially Hispanics to live out their vocations to become missionary disciples. I know that this in turn will have a ripple effect on evangelizing the entire Catholic Church in the U.S.,” she said. 
To learn more about the V Encuentro, visit www.vencuentro.org, or contact Edgar Ramirez at (512) 949-2468 or edgar-ramirez@austindiocese.org.