Twenty-four delegates from the Diocese of St. Petersburg participated in the Fifth National Encuentro of Hispanic/Latino Ministry on September 20-23, at Grapevine, Texas. Together with 3,000 delegates, leaders, religious brothers and sisters, deacons, priests and bishops of the United States, our delegates worked to identify strategies to serve the growing Hispanic/Latino community so that the Church can respond to their needs and help them to fully participate in the life of the Church and to courageously live the Gospel as missionary disciples. The delegates will continue working by reflecting about their experiences and what they learned during the Fifth Encuentro process and contribute in the planning and implementation of the vision of our diocese of “Courageously Living the Gospel.”
Below is a statement from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops about the V (Fifth) Encuentro.
Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, Archbishop of San Antonio and chairman of the Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement today following the close of the V National Encuentro that took place September 20-23 in Grapevine, Texas.
Archbishop García-Siller’s full statement follows:
Brothers and Sisters,
What a wonderful Fifth National Encuentro of Hispanic/Latino Ministry we had in Grapevine, Texas, September 20-23! For us bishops it was both humbling and awe-inspiring to witness and participate in this grace-filled event that culminated a process of several years. Four days of prayer, sharing, listening, and learning revealed a people of God alive in the love of Jesus. The process now continues with the charge to take back to our communities and dioceses what we experienced at the National V Encuentro.
Build “a culture of encounter that rekindles hope.” With this call, Pope Francis welcomed the nearly 3,200 people from more than 160 dioceses and over 200 Catholic organizations from around the country to the V Encuentro. Following the Holy Father’s video message, his Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, invited us to go forth out of our comfort zone and become leaven of communion. We, the delegates to the V Encuentro, bishops and people together, gratefully take this charge back to our communities filled with a missionary spirit.
The V Encuentro process, and specially the national gathering, will go down in history as a special moment of grace for the Church in the United States in these turbulent and difficult times. As Cardenal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops aptly put it in his welcoming remarks: “Amidst this darkness, the Encuentro is a light that shines and illuminates the way forward. The enthusiasm, the passion, the love, and the joy of the Encuentro process is a means of grace, a gift to us as we rebuild the Church.”
A special highlight of the National V Encuentro was the participation of hundreds of young adults who brought us hope with their enthusiasm and courage, witness of faith and commitment to the Church. As the process of Encuentro continues, may we welcome their energy, their gifts and talents for the service of the entire Church.
This mountaintop experience of God’s Providence, of the love of Christ for his Church, impels us and we are now readier to be the Church Christ wants us to be. Thousands of faithful have returned home to share their experience with those whose voices they represented and with everyone unable to attend. In this way, the Holy Spirit will multiply the graces of renewal and conversion.
I am grateful to all who made this V Encuentro possible, from the pastors and parish coordinators to the diocesan and regional teams. I am grateful for all the national organizations and sponsors that accompanied and supported us thus far. And I am grateful to my brother bishops who have accompanied their people in this process locally and at the National V Encuentro. I ask for your continued support and prayers as the process of the V Encuentro enters now a new phase of implementation.
Coming together across cultures and geographic regions, the Body of Christ draws strength from the diverse gifts of its individual members. In fidelity to Christ and in communion with the successor of Peter, open to the impulses of the Spirit and under the merciful gaze of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of the Americas, let us use that strength to share the hope of the Gospel with all who are in need of God’s love and mercy.