Encuentro: We are called to be missionary disciples

By Allison Cavazos
Guest Columnist

At the heart of the V Encuentro is our call to spread the Gospel to all corners of our society. Our theme, “Missionary Disciples, Witnesses of God’s Love,” reminds us that being a missionary disciple is not reserved only for clergy or those with advanced degrees in theology, but for each of us who has encountered God and his unfailing love for us. Pope Francis tell us, “In all the baptized, from first to last, the sanctifying power of the Spirit is at work, impelling us to evangelization” (Evangelii Gaudium, 119).
Evangelization may come naturally with those who are near and dear to us –– our family, friends, neighbors or co-workers. But our challenge goes beyond just those who are already a part of our daily lives. “Being a disciple means being constantly ready to bring the love of Jesus to others, and this can happen unexpectedly and in any place: on the street, in a city square, during work, on a journey” (Evangelii Gaudium, 127).
One of the five objectives of the V Encuentro is to “invite all Catholic leaders to engage and accompany Hispanic Catholics, particularly the most vulnerable and those who find themselves on the periphery of the Church and society.” We are called to recognize the wounded Christ in them, and help them to know his love and mercy. “Jesus calls us to be good Samaritans who recognize the urgent call to respond to human suffering with compassion and generosity. He also teaches us how to reach out to those who live with the fear of feeling lost, hopeless, and confused on the way to Emmaus so they can recover the presence of the Risen Christ in their lives and His mission of making the Kingdom of God present among us” (enahve.org/spirituality).
As we form V Encuentro teams in our parishes, we will develop plans for missionary action to engage with those living in the peripheries of our society, letting them know they have a place at the table. As you go through the motions of your daily life, look around. Who is lonely? Visit them. Who needs to be invited back to the church? Welcome them with open arms. Who has lost hope? Learn about their realities and respond with authentic hope of a brighter tomorrow. Spread joy so others may see Christ’s light in you. Find opportunities to learn from those who are different from you, to truly encounter them, so that Christian friendship may form.
As we continue together in this process of Encuentro, let us look for those opportunities to spread the Good News, through our words and our actions, to all those we encounter on our journey. May we be ever mindful of those whom God has placed on our paths, that we may never pass up the opportunity to share the love of Christ and the joy of the Gospel with them.
For more information about the V Encuentro, visit www.vencuentro.org. 

Training sessions for V Encuentro parish teams will be held Feb. 4 at St. Louis Parish in Austin, Feb. 18 at Sacred Heart Parish in Waco and March 4 at St. Anthony Marie de Claret Parish in Kyle. Parish team members are appointed by the pastor of each parish, so those interested are encouraged to talk with their pastor about becoming a part of the parish Encuentro team. All parish teams are invited to participate in one of the parish training sessions, which will be held in English and Spanish from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The cost of each session is $20 per person, which includes lunch and materials. To register your parish team members for a session, call (512) 949-2426.