By Elsa Baughman
WINONA – Members of the V National Hispanic Encuentro’s diocesan team met recently at Sacred Heart Parish to continue planning their participation in this event which will be held Sept. 20-23, 2018, in Grapevine, Texas.
This diocesan team is responsible for the promotion and implementation of the V Encuentro goals in the Diocese of Jackson. Sister María Elena Méndez, of the Office of Hispanic Ministry, is leading the training.
Danna Johnson, a member of Pontotoc St. Christopher Parish, opened the meeting with a prayer and reflection and presented an introduction and guidance on what the V Encuentro means. During the all-day meeting, four other members of the team presented topics on leadership training, experience of an Encuentro and a theological reflection. Sister Josefina García offered a Lectio Divina reflection.
Each of the four previous Encuentros has led to continued growth in Hispanic minitry in the United States and each has grown exponentially.
The first National Hispanic Encuentro was held in 1972, resulting in the creation of the National Office for Hispanic Affairs in the United States. It was held at Trinity College, Washington, D.C. More than 250 people participated.
The II Encuentro, in 1977, drew 1,200 participants. Fifty bishops attended the event. There were 26 workshops and more than half of the them were on Evangelization, which was the main theme of that gathering.
More than 2,000 people attended III Encuentro Nacional Hispano de Pastoral at The Catholic University of America on Aug. 15-18, 1985. Fifty-six bishops were in attendance. This third meeting led to the creation of the USCCB Committee on Hispanic Affairs and the promulgation of the National Pastoral Plan for Hispanic Ministry.
The IV Encuentro held in Los Angeles, Calif., in July 2000. More than 5,000 participants from 150 countries attended this meeting, including 82 U.S. bishops and several from Latin America.
Then Bishop William Houck, Mary Woodward, then director of the Department of Evangelization; Joyce Hart, then director of the Office of Black Ministry attended IV Encuentro along with Elsa Baughman from Mississippi Catholic and Aurelia Gibson, a member of New Albany St. Francis of Assisi Parish.
This V Encuentro is more than just the meeting itself. Discerning ways in which the church in the United States can best respond to the presence of Hispanics/Latinos is a critical part of the process. Participants are also trying to articulate how they respond as missionary disciples to the call of the New Evangelization, to serve the whole church.
In preparation for the gathering in 2018 there will be five parish meetings at the diocesan level from January to June 2017, followed by regional meetings. The culmination of this process happens when three thousand delegates from dioceses and other catholic organizations meet in Texas to participate in the V Encuentro. For more details visit www.vencuentro.org. Look for a schedule of parish meetings in future issues of Mississippi Catholic. .
By Elsa Baughman