Southwestern Indiana's Catholic Community Newspaper

Encuentro Themes Focus On Families, Youth

By Norma Montenegro Flynn, Catholic News Service

Editor’s note – The Diocese of Evansville has been involved in the National Fifth Encuentro process for the past 18 months. Bishop Joseph M. Siegel has filed the report on the diocesan effort with Region VII (the Evansville diocese is in Region VII), and diocesan staff anf lay faithful will attend the June 8-10 episcopal Revion VII encuentro. Look for coverage in future issues of The Message.


WASHINGTON (CNS) – The Catholic Church needs to walk with and accompany Hispanic and immigrant families, reach out to youth and young adults, and strengthen faith and leadership formation.

            These were the recurring themes voiced by participants of the episcopal Region IV encuentro, held May 19 at The Catholic University of America in Washington.

            As part of the National Fifth Encuentro process, nearly 100 regional gathered to "encounter," as the word "encuentro" suggests, each other and listen to the voices from parish communities and organizations within the region.

            They discerned priorities and strategies on Hispanic ministry, and how to better answer Pope Francis' call to become missionary disciples reaching out to those on the peripheries.

            Participants, sharing in small groups and at-large, widely spoke about the ways Hispanic families need the Catholic church community to accompany them in their struggles, their desire for a better and more accessible faith formation, on outreach to youth and young adults, on family values and on keeping families together.

            Proposed strategies to accompany families include: nurturing families through each stage, helping families integrate into their communities and following up with pastoral care. They also proposed to provide support for families who suffer separation and be involved in advocacy.

            Other priorities addressed were: finding ways to strengthen Hispanic ministry by strengthening the formation of Hispanic leaders; making available training in Spanish and scholarships to assist those who want to further their formation but lack the resources to do it; supporting and build up leaders, particularly among youth and young adults; access to Catholic education for youth; and providing a greater support for families, single parents and women.

            “We're called to proclaim and live the joy of the Gospel, we come here today very much aware of the real struggles that so many immigrants, people, families experience in their lives, and struggles are difficult," said Father Thomas Ferguson, vicar general of the Diocese of Arlington, who represented Bishop Michael Burbidge. "But even in the midst of carrying the cross or embracing the struggle and the sorrow and the suffering, it is radiated in this room joy, because we've been called by Jesus to carry out his work." 

            Military spouses and active duty members stationed in Japan, Italy, Hawaii and the eastern and western U.S., also participated in the meeting as part of the delegation representing the U.S. military archdiocese, which is based in Washington.

            The military archdiocese facilitated access to the encuentro process for Catholics in the military services who wished to participate.

            Zack Mackeller is a senior airman in the Air Force and became involved after attending a Catholic conference in Chicago. He represents the voices of young Catholics in the military and embraces the call to be a missionary disciple.

            "I try to engage people as they are, where they're at,” he said. “ Just that very basic, person to person connection, that's really all you can do. Then the Holy Spirit will unite people in its own way."