Encuentro: Making progress toward the next Encuentro

By Zulma Hernández
Guest Columnist

The Austin Diocese has formed the diocesan team that will work together to continue the process for the V Encuentro in the diocese. A training was held on June 4 at Cedarbrake Catholic Retreat Center in Belton to allow the Word of God to ignite a fire in the hearts of the team members. Through Lectio Divina using the passage about the Road to Emmaus (Lk 24:13-35), the team looked deeper into what happened on that day when the two disciples were walking on the road and feeling sad about the death of Jesus. 
With this Scripture we reflected on the following questions:
Is there a situation in my life that makes me feel confused, sad or without hope?
What would I say to Jesus about that situation if he walked along with me and asked what causes confusion, fear, or doubt in me? 
What words from Jesus would cause my heart to burn within me?
During our meditation, we asked the Holy Spirit to open our minds, our hearts and our eyes to allow the power of the Word of God to touch us and transform us just like the disciples when they discovered Jesus in the breaking of the bread. Father Everardo Cazares celebrated Mass for the team, and he invited us all to encounter Jesus in the Eucharist and to feel the joy in our hearts as we began this journey as a diocesan team. 
In the afternoon we focused on the theological reflection for the V Encuentro, which helped us embrace the vision for the V Encuentro, understand the reason why this is the most appropriate time to enter into the process for the Fifth Encuentro and from there make the decision to be participants of this process of Evangelization and Mission. 
Called and Sent to Encuentro: A Pastoral Theological Vision for the V Encuentro Process states, “The Hispanic Catholic experience is a treasure that permeates the life of the Church in the United States and the larger society in many ways. For decades, theologians and pastoral leaders in this country, the Caribbean, and Latin America have recognized the immense power of popular Catholicism as a vehicle not only to celebrate and interpret the faith, but also to pass on that faith from one generation to the next.”
Therefore, it was amazing to hear the sharing from each team member of what it meant to be a Hispanic Catholic in the U.S. in the 21st century. Team members represent a variety of pastoral ministries in the diocese, are from different ages, nationalities and parishes and are different ages. 
We ask that everyone join us in prayer so that the V Encuentro, set for Sept. 20-23, 2018, will be a force of evangelization for the church in the U.S. In a few weeks the diocesan team will continue its preparation and from there start to promote this process in the Catholic communities throughout the diocese. For more information and resources, visit www.vencuentro.org.

What is the V Encuentro?
The V Encuentro is a four-year process of ecclesial 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 V Encuentro starts at the grass-roots level and calls for the development of resources and initiatives to better serve the fast-growing Hispanic population in dioceses, parishes, ecclesial movements, and other Catholic organizations and institutions in light of its theme: Missionary Disciples: Witnesses of God’s Love.
Who participates in the V Encuentro?
All leaders in dioceses, parishes, lay ecclesial movements and other Catholic organizations and institutions are invited to participate by encountering Hispanic/Latino Catholics, particularly those living in the periphery through the missionary process of evangelization and consultation of the V Encuentro.
What is the goal of V Encuentro?
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.