By Elsa Baughman
GREENWOOD – Bishop Joseph Kopacz told Hispanics attending the Encuentro Hispano that their presence “is a living proof that there are many disciples and witnesses among us who have the mind and the heart to proclaim Christ crucified and risen and to evangelize, develop and strengthen the Body of Christ in our diocese.”
“This is a day of many blessings and I thank God for your presence here in our diocese,” said Bishop Kopacz during the Mass. “We are witnesses of the Hispanic presence that continues to grow as a living part of the Kingdom of God in Mississippi.” About 250 people from different communities of the Diocese of Jackson gathered at the Civic Center on Saturday April 18.
The guest speakers of the ‘encuentro,’ which means gathering or encounter, were Fabio Trujillo Lema, a psychologist with 30 years of experience, and Deacon Edgardo Farías, director of the pastoral prison ministry of the Archdiocese of Miami. Both are professors at the Southeast Pastoral Institute (SEPI) based in Miami, Fla.
This annual event, sponsored by the diocesan Office of Hispanic Ministry, offers participants a unique opportunity to come together to make new friends and to deepen their knowledge of God’s teachings.
Trujillo and Farías delved into the theme of the event, “Called to Be, Belong and Serve.”
Trujillo’s presentation centered on the ego. He used the title character from the movie “ET,” saying all people, like the alien, want “to go home” to God. An ET doll was one of many props he used.
He opened with St. Therese of Avila’s prayer to relax participants: “Let nothing disturb you; nothing frighten you. All things are passing. God never changes. Patience obtains all things. Nothing is wanting to Him who possesses God. God alone suffices.”
Jokingly, Trujillo said the reason to listen to the prayer was to “calm down the crazy one of the house,” meaning the mind. “If there is no peace in our mind, there is no way to get to God,” he said, adding that “we get depressed because we don’t know ourselves, because we don’t have the world we want.”
“Depression does not exist in the soul, it’s an affair of the ego,” he said. “When we feel depressed we should ask ourselves two questions, ‘what is happening with my life? And, how far am I from God?’ Because the closer I am to him, the less depressed I feel.”
He spoke of the need for Christians to transform themselves, as caterpillars transform into butterflies. He also emphasized the need to forgive and be forgiven. “Everything you have in your heart that you have not forgiven is an anchor with weight on the flight of your soul, and the more weight you have the less you fly,” he said.
Trujillo illustrated the need for a healthy self esteem with a Spanish song that says, “How beautiful I am, how nice I am, how nice I look and I feel, without me I would die, how much I love myself” (kisses). And he advised, “my hands should be an extension of my heart.” When that happens, he said, a person’s language will be of love and fire.
“Events like this (encuentro) are of great benefit because they help us to maintain our identity, to strengthen our roots and give us the elements necessary to go beyond the difficulties, in addition to gaining wisdom to not stagnate in the face of adversity,” said Trujillio.
Farias dedicated part of his presentation to the need to make our parish communities that project fraternity. He reminded participants that they are part of a diocese in which the bishop, the priests and religious, deacons and lay ministers are responsible for the care of its territory and its people.
He talked about the importance of belonging to a parish where all can participate and advised them to become friends with their pastor and to help the bishop to renew the diocese and to make ‘fire’ in Mississippi. “Ask yourselves,” he said, “Do I feel this way in my parish? This fire, this desire? Am I part of a healthy, lively, cheerful community?”
On the subject of ‘being’ he said we should be proud of who we are and where we come from, to feel as a family and be proud to be members of the church of Jesus. “So that God knows us and we know him and to get to be in an intimate relationship with God, we must know ourselves first,” he noted.
The second part of his talk was dedicated to the 15 ailments of the Vatican Curia that Pope Francis listed during his annual Christmas greeting to the cardinals, bishops and priests who run the central administration of the Catholic Church. But Farías applied them to personal situations and behavior in our lives and our parishes.
About 80 youth attended the event. Trujillo had a very lively presentation for them on the theme of the ego and how to be part of and belong to a loving community of faith.
Trujillo said that the youth need adults and the adults also need them. Adults bring maturity, responsibility and commitment, and they represent the hope, the dynamism, the freshness of the future.
“Young people and adults walking together can build a civilization of love, the dream of Jesus. “Love one another as I have loved you.”
The event ended with Mass celebrated by Bishop Kopacz along with several other priests and religious who attended the event. Readers can find more photos in this week’s Mississippi Catolico.
By Elsa Baughman