Cleveland Bishop Nelson Perez had the spotlight at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ spring meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on June 13 when he presented a report on the national V Encuentro. It was one of several topics discussed by the body of bishops.
The USCCB’s Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs convened pastoral leaders of the Hispanic/Latino community to engage again in the process of Encuentro on June 9, 2013 in San Diego, California. The V Encuentro was convened in the context of the new evangelization and emphasized the importance of involving young, second- and third-generation Hispanics/Latinos. Bishop Arturo Cepeda, auxiliary bishop of Detroit, Michigan; Bishop Gerald Barnes of San Bernardino, California; Bishop Perez, who at that time was auxiliary bishop of Rockville Centre, New York; and Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San Antonio, Texas, were elected by the subcommittee to lead the Encuentro process.
The national V Encuentro will take place Sept. 20-23 in Grapevine, Texas. Its theme is “Missionary Disciples, Witnesses of God’s Love,” which is based on Pope Francis’ continuing call for Catholics to be missionary disciples.
“On behalf of Archbishop Garcia-Siller, I thank you for your support,” Bishop Perez told the assembly. He explained that V Encuentro will seek to establish ways in which the Church can respond to the Hispanic presence in parishes and promote the new evangelization. It also is an opportunity to listen carefully to the needs, challenges, and aspirations faced by the Hispanic population in everyday life.
Bishop Perez recognized those who have been supporting the participating in V Encuentro for the past 18 months, noting there have been 145 diocesan Encuentros as well as 14 in episcopal regions, including the Region 6 Encuentro in Detroit June 2-3, which included Ohio and Michigan. Both Bishop Perez and Bishop Cepeda participated in that event.
More than 5,500 delegates and 100 bishops have been involved in the regional Encuentro, he noted. The national V Encuentro is expected to have more than 2,800 delegates and, about 100 bishops in attendance. Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States, plans to attend as well as Guzman Carriquiry, secretary of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America at the Vatican. Bishop Juan Espinoza, general secretary of the Latin American Council of Episcopal Conferences and representatives of more than 100 U.S. Catholic organizations are also expected.
There will be bilingual liturgies and presentations focusing on a variety of issues facing Hispanic/Latino Catholics. Simultaneous translation will be offered, he said. Many of the delegates and those attending the national V Encuentro will be young people.
“This will be a unique opportunity to encounter dialogue, prayer and praise from 500 young people,” Bishop Perez said, adding that engagement of these young people is important to keeping the Church alive and vibrant among Hispanic youth.
He said he saw a lot of engagement in the Rockville Centre and Cleveland dioceses, “But there is still much work to do to get these young people to face outward, to be missionary disciples, to engage their minds, hearts and hands.” Bishop Perez said he is hopeful that the Encuentro process will have a positive effect.
“These young people say they want a space. We have to make a space for them in the Church,” he said at the USCCB meeting, echoing comments he made at the Region 6 V Encuentro earlier this month in Detroit. “They want to be led to a place worth going to.”