WASHINGTON — Dominican Sister Judith Maldonado is one of
nearly 3,000 Hispanic leaders who have gone back to their parishes and
dioceses to share the ideas and fruits of the conversations that took
place at the Fifth National Encuentro in Grapevine, Texas.
that phase of the multiyear process reached completion, the next phase
is aimed at putting into practice the lessons learned and bear fruits.
has been like a retreat, the message that we were given at the end is
like you have the Holy Spirit, you have to take it with you and you have
to be saints, produce fruits of love,” said Sister Maldonado, a member
of the Dominican Sisters of the Lady of the Rosary of Fatima. Her order
is involved with family ministry serving parishes in Maryland and Texas.
Fifth National Encuentro participants returned to their dioceses and parishes with many challenges and hopes.
them, they were called to share their gifts and reach out across race
and language barriers in their own parish and diocesan communities; at
the same time, they also urged the rest of non-Hispanic Catholics to
recognize their presence and open doors to their gifts and
In the next few months, the leadership team of the
Fifth National Encuentro, or V Encuentro, will distribute a concluding
document listing the main priorities and problems identified across 28
ministry areas; the document will assist dioceses, parishes and national
structures in drafting their own pastoral plans according to their own
realities and priorities.
The Encuentro’s team of accompaniment, or ENAVE, plans to continue providing support and tracking progress.
have achieved things that in some ways we never would have imagined
would be possible,” Ken Johnson-Mondragon, V Encuentro’s director of
research, told Catholic News Service. “Walls have come down, people have
experienced really the joy that Pope Francis talks about.”
Encuentro process that began about four years ago has helped thousands
of Hispanic ministry leaders engage in faith-filled dialogues among
themselves and reach out to those on peripheries. Encuentro has also
promoted collaborations within and across dioceses, which is known as
‘pastoral en conjunto,’ and has helped remove the “fear to speak up,”
bringing the participants closer to their pastors and bishops, added
The V Encuentro also identified and prepared at
least 25,000 new Hispanic ministry leaders across the country, and
about a third of the leaders engaged were youth and young adults. An
estimated 100,000 individuals participated in the process and about
150,000 others were reached on the peripheries.
An important gain
is that the V Encuentro has captured the attention and support of
bishops nationwide. At the gathering, about 125 bishops — Hispanic and
non-Hispanic — walked side by side with their diocesan delegations, and
about 160 of 178 Roman Catholic dioceses and archdioceses in the country
“The Hispanic Church is asking for formation,
they’re asking for support, they’re asking for direction, so it will be
on the part of the bishops and pastors to provide that,” Bishop Oscar
Cantu said. Formerly head of the Diocese of Las Cruces, N.M., he is now
coadjutor bishop of San Jose, Calif.
The top three recommendations
that rose up in the Encuentro process are: the need to develop pastoral
plans for Hispanic ministry tailored according to the needs of each
parish and diocese; the need of the parish community to help strengthen
families; and to hire more Hispanic young adults in paid positions of
The 28 ministry areas addressed by the V Encuentro
include those that reach out to youth, young adult, college campuses,
immigrants, families, people with disabilities, and the incarcerated, as
well as ministries in vocations, pro-life, faith formation and
catechesis, justice and peace, and even care for the environment among
“Encuentro is a two-year process of missionary activity, consultation, leadership development and pastoral discernment in parishes, dioceses and episcopal regions that culminates with a national event. A primary outcome of the Encuentro process is to discern pastoral practices and priorities to impact the quality of ministry among Hispanic/Latino Catholics, under the leadership of the U.S. bishops.”
To learn more about Encuentro, see bit.ly/2DTz5Dp