Serving as part of a four-year program, the V Encuentro, or “Fifth Encounter” is “opening minds and hearts.”
V Encuentro is an evangelization initiative created for Spanish-speaking communities to share their faith and make themselves known within the Church. It serves to identify the importance of implementing values such as representativeness, participation, pastoral ministry, and a constant spirit of prayer.
The Region X V Encuentro conference was held April 13-16 in San Antonio with Region X delegates from Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas in attendance.
Serving as part of a four-year program, the V Encuentro, or “Fifth Encounter,” is an evangelization initiative created for Spanish-speaking communities to share their faith and make themselves known within the Church. It serves to identify the importance of implementing values such as representativeness, participation, pastoral ministry, and a constant spirit of prayer.
“It gives a voice of the people for the bishops and key community leaders to hear,” said Julio Beltran, the Coordinator for Hispanic Youth and Young Adults within the Diocese of Beaumont and the Regional Chairperson for Region X. “It helps the delegates become aware of different realities. It’s opening minds and hearts.”
Beltran’s focus continues to be the Hispanic youth in the community. He noted that it was what led to one of the main areas discussed at the conference; helping guide children and members into the process of the Church.
“It isn’t the same as when I was young and did what my grandmother and mother said to. Kids want more facts,” Beltran said.
Small group sessions discussed the interest in investing more into families and youth ministry through community events – events that are better known and more accessible to others through the addition of Hispanic Ministries within dioceses.
“By having the youth more aware of the needs and blessings they have, I believe that they will be able to serve the community in the future better.” Beltran commented. “Not every diocese has a Hispanic Ministry.”
The small groups also discussed how to integrate children into a blended culture. “Not just Mexican or American,” Beltran said, “But Mexican-American and what that means for not just the kids, but also their parents, so they can embrace who they are.”
When asked about how the community can help through this process, Beltran said, “Just listen to stories. Listen to someone’s journey of faith without judgement.”
The V Encuentro program will conclude with the National Encuentro in September with a historic gathering of 3,000 leaders and delegates from across the country, including Bishop Curtis Guillory, SVD, Beltran and three more delegates from the Diocese of Beaumont.