A PERSONAL ENCUENTRO!
Dear Members, Supporters, and Friends,
Just like the thousands of Latino/Hispanic Catholics throughout the United States, I recently began the journey of the five sessions that are part of the process of the V Encuentro Nacional de Ministerio Hispano. I am participating in the sessions with community organizers who represents the largest Hispanic/Latino community in the Midwest. Like many in our Church, this is my first Encuentro and in my small community of 10 there are four young adults.
During the first session, I was impressed that three out of the four jóvenes said they believed in God, were baptized Catholic, but did not believe in the church. One young mother said she was married in the Catholic Church and had baptized her daughter only to please her family; that she felt a sense of tradition more than faith. She didn’t think the Church offered anything appealing and simply no longer believed. Yet, here she is participating in the Encuentro sessions; perhaps looking for what she lost when it comes to her faith and spirituality. As our sessions continue, we discover that in their work, in their fight and dedication to social justice, these community organizers are serving as missionary disciples.
The Catholic Church is losing young people by the millions and this crisis will be the focus of the NCCHM 2017 meeting in San Antonio, Texas. The latest demographics state that young people have been leaving the Church by the millions, making it essential for pastoral and ministry leaders to listen, reflect, dialogue with our jóvenes, accompany, and evangelize Hispanic youth and young adults. As we reflected during the NCCHM meeting in 2016, we have entered a new era in the Church; an opportune moment to evangelize and receive the blessings of our youth and young adults as they prepare to lead in Church and society.
Pastoral Juvenil Hispana, the pastoral needs of our youth and young adults, the challenges, resources, how we evangelize our jovenes in an era of technology, opportunities and blessings they present to Church and society, and the issues that must be urgently addressed if we are to stop young people from leaving the Catholic Church will be at the heart of our dialogue, reflections, and program.
Exactly 12 months before the V Encuentro, NCCHM returns home to MACC:
Mexican American Catholic College in San Antonio from Sept. 21-24, 2017.
In planning for this meeting, nearly two years ago NCCHM and La RED-National Catholic Network for Pastoral Juvenil Hispana began dialoguing and working in Pastoral de Conjunto to reflect on what the Spirit is calling us to do, recognizing that evangelizing, accompanying, and supporting our jóvenes is everyone’s mission, not just La RED’s. As a result, the 2017 NCCHM’s annual meeting will become a platform for dialogue, reflection, and prayer on the needs and blessings of Pastoral Juvenil Hispana, but most importantly this meeting will provide NCCHM members and meeting participants the opportunity to listen to the voices of our jóvenes, in and out of the Church. In the 2017 meeting, NCCHM will also present the Culture of Vocations Manual that has been under development since 2013 by a team that include Sr. Dominga Zapata, S.H. and Dr. Rosemarie Kamke. A timely manual as the Pope has called for a Synod on Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment in October 2018.
Over the past several months NCCHM had the opportunity to participate in national gatherings including the Consulta Pastoral in Birmingham, AL where the boards of
eight national Hispanic ministry organizations convened at St. Bernard’s Abbey to reflect and dialogue on the V Encuentro and how as organizations we can support, participate, and cooperate with this Hispanic ministry initiative by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. As part of our sharing we created what became a symbolic prayer wheel with our passions and hopes.
NCCHM was also invited to participate in planning initiatives by the National Association of Catholic Chaplains in developing new standards and competencies for the pastoral care of the elderly, dying, and imprisoned, where we provided input on the culture, language, and needs of Hispanics/Latinos. At every conference, meeting, or gathering, NCCHM was able to network and promote the issues that affect Hispanic/Latino Catholics and advocate for better pastoral care to meet the needs of our people.
In every meeting, conference or gathering, the subject of “crisis in Pastoral Juvenil Hispana,” how we encounter, accompany, and evangelize Hispanic/Latino youth and young adults, nuestros jóvenes, was part of the dialogue, conversation, reflection, and prayer. This dialogue will continue at the NCCHM 2017 annual meeting. Please let me know if you have any question. ¡Los esperamos!
Abrazos de paz y bien,