Encuentro team examines results for Diocese of Jackson, plans next step

By Sister María Elena Méndez, MGSpS
WINONA – On Saturday, November 18, the Hispanic ministry team and its delegates; Susana Becerril, Maria Isamar Mazy and Danna Johnson met at Sacred Heart Parish to take the next step in the V Encuentro process. The group took the results of the two diocesan encuentro gratherings to discern the three priorities that the Diocese of Jackson will share at a regional meeting. Jackson is in Region V which includes 30 dioceses in nine states including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Before arriving at an agreement, the group reviewed the seven priorities of the Hispanic community that emerged from the V Encuentro process. Many of the issues came from the Diocesan Pastoral Plan. They include: evangelization, proclaiming Jesus Christ and our Catholic faith; creating welcoming and reconciling communities; facilitating the ongoing formation of life-long disciples; promotion of vocations; social outreach and a focus on strengthening family and youth.
Each person chose three areas they believe the Jackson diocese shares with other ministers in the Southeast region. After much discussion regarding common issues and differences, the team agreed to concentrate on the following three areas while emphasizing two projects for each.
1. Evangelization: Proclaiming Jesus Christ and our Catholic faith
Projects: Offer evangelization retreats
Visit those separated from the church and welcome them into the community
2. Family Outreach
Projects: Continue to support the activities that include families, youth and vocations
Work with the Office of Education to foster faith, ministry and Catholic school education to better serve Hispanic children and youth in religious and academic areas.
3. Ongoing formation of life-long disciples
Projects: Offer catechist training for adults
Facilitate formation programs (School of ministries and training workshops)
The team understands that there are other needs in Hispanic communities that require attention, such as needs for children and young people. But the Encuentro approach emphasizes creating a long-term plan which strengthens faith, family and leadership training. Using this approach, leaders will be able to respond to the specific needs of each group one need at a time. It is important that each person offers their gifts and talents in their parish communities in order to respond to all needs.
The Encuentro team shared their plan with Bishop Joseph Kopacz, who reviewed and approved it. Encuentro teams from the entire Region V will meet in Miami from February 22-24, 2018, to share the priorities from their dioceses. The regions will then discern a set of priorities to take to the national gathering scheduled for September 20-23, 2018 in Grapevine, Texas.