ORLANDO | The Diocese of Orlando began its participation in V Encuentro, or Fifth Encounter, with a gathering of more than 150 leaders from 20 parishes throughout the diocese. The Fifth National Hispanic Pastoral Encuentro is an initiative begun by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The four-year process calls the Catholic Church in the United States to discern how it can better serve Hispanic Catholics, especially those who are marginalized, and strengthen their role as missionary disciples to the entire Church.
The process of evangelization, communion and consultation hopes to enable a more creative response to integration of ecclesial communities with a large Hispanic presence. Its goal is to form pastoral leaders as missionary disciples, thus revitalizing parishioners’ faith and fostering a more active response to the new evangelization.
V Encuentro begins at the parish level. Assisted by diocesan teams, parishes host five consecutive sessions offering participants a chance to pray and discern themes inspired by Pope Francis in Envangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel).
Based on the theme: “Missionary Disciples: Witnesses of God’s Love,” the diocese began its leadership training in June. During the morning sessions several aspects of the V Encounter process were presented, and the participants were able to carry out a mock session similar to what will be presented in the small groups.
“I am very excited to see so many people from many parishes with a contagious energy,” said Blanca Maldonado of Good Shepherd Parish in Orlando. Laura Mediavilla, Director of Religious Education at Good Shepherd said, “We had a good presentation of the process and contexts of the Fifth Encounter. I am thankful for the good music and generous hospitality we received from those who came to the training.”
Currently, parishes participating in the Fifth Encounter are: St. James Cathedral, Holy Family, Holy Cross, St. Isaac Jogues, Blessed Trinity and Good Shepherd parishes in Orlando; St. Rose of Lima Parish in Poinciana, Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Winter Park, Holy Spirit Parish in Lake Wales, St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Kissimmee, Mision Centro Guadalupano in Wahneta, Resurrection Parish in Winter Garden, San Pedro Jesus Maldonado Mission in Wildwood, St. John Neumann Parish in Lakeland, St. Luke Parish in Barefoot Bay and St. Mary Magdalen Parish in Altamonte Springs. The diocesan Catholic Charismatic Renewal also participated in the training.
“We are hopeful that we will be able to offer training in areas such as Ocala, Lakeland, Melbourne and where necessary to ensure maximum participation of people and parishes,” said Tomás Evans, diocesan director of Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Orlando. “In addition, it is important to recognize the support that Hispanic priests have provided to this process,” Evans added.
Carlos Bernard of Blessed Trinity Parish in Orlando said, “The richness of this program is that it enables us to attract those who have left the Church, to remind them of the Sacraments, especially of Baptism, and to tell them that they are part of this Church. I think the Fifth Encounter is going to help the Hispanic community and the Anglos as well, but we have to work hard.”
Marjorie Durante, part of the diocesan team, shared the enthusiasm. “I am very excited and glad to see so many people, some acquaintances and new faces, who are willing to serve their church in this V Encounter,” she said. The diocese welcomes any parish interested in training to call Tomás Evans or visit the website for details about the process: https://www.orlandodiocese.org/ministries-offices/v-encuentro/.
by Tomas Evans and Glenda Meekins – July 20, 2017