SEATTLE – Nearly 200 members of the Archdiocese of Seattle’s Hispanic communities gathered Oct. 14 for a day of fellowship, reflection and conversation as part of the V Encuentro process.
“We recognize that the Hispanic community among us is a blessing from God,” Archbishop J. Peter Sartain said in Spanish, as he welcomed the participants after music, singing and an opening prayer. “We are gathered under our protection of the Virgin Mary, who is our companion … our intercessor,” the archbishop said.
Encuentro (Spanish for “encounter”) is an initiative of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in response to the growing Hispanic community in the United States. This year’s theme is “Missionary Disciples: Witnesses of God’s Love.”
The Archdiocese of Seattle is in the second year of the four-year Encuentro process, which the V Encuentro website describes as “ecclesial reflection and action that invites all Catholics in the United States to intense missionary activity, consultation, leadership development, and identification of best ministerial practices in the spirit of the New Evangelization.”
Representing 18 parishes, the Oct. 14 participants included lay ministers, priests, young adults and archdiocesan staff from Hispanic ministry and the Office of Discipleship. Each participant received a summary of parish feedback to the archdiocese, detailing the obstacles, needs, best practices, hopes and dreams of the Hispanic communities.
One segment included testimonies by three young adults, each from a different parish. They shared their faith journeys, including re-conversions, vocational discernments and use of their gifts in church activities.
V Encuentro participants pose outside St. James Cathedral to commemorate the daylong event. Photo: Danica Delosreyes
Auxiliary Bishop Eusebio Elizondo gave a presentation on how to move forward in faith with the recognition that Jesus is alive and risen.
“The Holy Father says, ‘Evangelize!’ What does that mean? It means to love,” Bishop Elizondo said. “We need disciples — disciples who listen with his big ears, but also with his big heart.”
Bishop Elizondo said the Hispanic community must be responsible for helping parishes, and he noted the need for bilingual or Spanish-speaking staff at parishes. He encouraged participants to keep going and growing, noting that even when Jesus’ apostles worked slowly, they persevered.
“The main result of the Encounter is for you to be leaders,” he said. “If not, it will be just a nice event, and then goodbye.”