Column: Midwest ‘encuentro’ to focus on balance

by Father Pat Murphy

In 1972, the U.S. bishops called for the first ever national “encuentro” of the Hispanic community, and as a result of this gathering, the face of Hispanic ministry changed forever.

This first encuentro (literally translated “encounter”) was much more than just a friendly gathering. At its very core, it involved a process of bringing the folks together in a way that invited them to become part of pastoral planning at the grass-roots level, rather than sitting back and having others plan the future for them.

In fact, the process of the encuentro became such a success that in the celebration of the jubilee year 2000, the Hispanic community was invited by the U.S. bishops to convoke a national encounter of all God’s people in Los Angeles under the banner of “Many Faces in God’s House.”

Inspired by the national encuentro process, Region 9 Hispanic Ministry
organizes a local encuentro every other year in an effort to bring together some its leaders from the dioceses located in Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas.

The regional encuentro for 2010 will take place at Savior Pastoral Center on April 17-18, where we hope to gather some 150 leaders from around the 15 dioceses of the heartland states. The theme for Encuentro 2010, “The Presence of Jesus in the Home, Work and Community,” is quite timely and will offer those who attend an opportunity to reflect on how to balance one’s life while keeping Jesus in the center.

In addition to the keynote address, some of the other workshops to be given are on: 1) the dignity of the person and domestic violence; 2) marriage and the family; 3) how to balance family life and one’s commitment to the apostolate; and 4) music and the liturgy. Besides workshops, there will also be lots of opportunities for prayer, as well as the celebration of reconciliation and, of course, sharing of ideas and experiences in the informal moments of the Encuentro 2010.

In sum, our regional encuentro is much more than just a gathering of the Hispanic community of Region 9. It definitely is an encounter of a group of people who share a common journey as immigrants, as well as a moment of seeking out and celebrating the risen Lord along life’s journey.

We invite you to pray for the success of Encuentro 2010 as we come together to celebrate the gift of family life in the Hispanic community. Please be assured of our prayers when we gather together in Kansas City, Kan., on April 17-18 for the celebration of Encuentro 2010.

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Fr. Pat Murphy

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