Dear Parishioners +JMJ
This week a small team of parishioners had our first official session of V Encuentro (Spanish for “Fifth Encounter”). V Encuentro is a national program of outreach to Hispanics. It is called the “fifth” encounter, because ever since the early 1970s, there were four other national movements, attempting to reach out to Hispanics in our country, always resulting in a better understanding of the gift that Hispanics are for our church in the United States. The director of the intercultural office of the Pastoral Center of the Diocese presented the program to us at a deanery meeting several months ago. And that led to us at Divine Mercy forming a small team, with Mel and Xari Martinez in the lead.
The local parish Encuentro effort has at its center a five-week series of meetings with reflection, evangelization, and consultation… all guided by five themes inspired by Pope Francis’ call to foster a culture of Encounter (cf. The Joy of the Gospel, n.24):
- Called to a loving encounter with Jesus in the Church
- With Words and Actions: Do it!
- Walking Together with Jesus
- Bearing Fruits of New Life
- Celebrating the Joy of Being Missionary Disciples
So, in this first meeting last week, we meditated on the first theme above, starting with a the Scripture passage about Jesus encountering the two disciples on the road to Emmaus after His resurrection (cf., Luke chapter 24). You remember how the disciples, disillusioned after the crucifixion of Jesus, were walking along the road down trodden. Without them recognizing Him, Jesus walks next to them and listens to all their concerns. Then he is able to lead them to a greater understanding of the mystery that has just occurred in God’s plan. Their eyes are finally opened, like blinders taken off.
Various group members shared about different ways in their own personal lives they’ve experienced Jesus taking initiative with them, especially by means of disciples of Jesus taking initiative in their lives. I shared, for example, about the way a couple university students living on my dormitory floor in my first year of college reached out to me to invite me to a University Christian Outreach meeting. That literally changed the entire course of my life, because I met Jesus in a new way, and I was struck as never before with how much I was loved by my Father in heaven. Where would I be today, had those two young men not loved Jesus enough, nor cared for me enough, to invite me into this setting of fervent Christianity?
The parish Encuentro effort will probably lead to some type of parish event, especially reaching out to Hispanics. Eventually there will also be a diocesan Encuentro event (a retreat day, etc.). All of these parish and diocesan efforts also fold into the whole national movement, and an eventual national Encuentro event.
Please pray for all of our efforts with the Hispanic community of Paulding County. I regularly see Hispanics at the grocery store, at the gas station, etc., etc. And I know the Mexican culture became so Catholic, as a result of the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe in 1531. Yet there are so many Hispanics whom I never see in Mass. What can be done? Please be sure to reach out to anybody around you at any Mass who seems to be new, Hispanic or not. This makes all the difference in helping people to feel connected to the Church, and thus more connected to Jesus Christ.
Have a blessed week!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,