Catholics from throughout Utah gather to encounter Christ
Friday, Mar. 27, 2015
Father Juan Rivas leads a prayer with more than 300 Catholic children who, with their parents, attended the Charismatic Encounter that took place March 21-22 in West Valley City. IC photo/Laura Vallejo
WEST VALLEY CITY— Nearly 2,000 Catholics from all over the Diocese of Salt Lake City gathered at Granger High School to celebrate a two-day Healing Encounter.
“Families Freed by Jesus’ Sores” [Familias liberadas por las llagas de Jesus] was organized by the diocesan Renovation Charismatic Group with the help of the diocese’s Hispanic Ministry.
The encounter offered music, reflection, prayer and worship. Participating priests were Father José Barrera, parochial vicar of the Cathedral of the Madeleine and spiritual advisor of the diocesan Charismatic group; Father Alexandre Paciolli, from Brazil, who is in charge of the apostolate Pilgrim Queen of the Family; Father Teo Dirk Kranz, from Bogota, who specializes in exorcisms; and Father Juan Rivas, an evangelizer and preacher from Los Angeles, but originally from Guadalajara, Mexico, and part of the Legionarios de Cristo.
“This encounter is very special. There is a lot of need in our Hispanic community; we hope that we can have better families, better parents, better children,” said Salvador Bautista, coordinator of the diocesan Charismatic group.
The importance of the encounter was reflected in the fact that the participants were there as families, and there were activities and talks focused on each group, Bautista said.
“When all the families participate together, they all hear the information, they hear the same, they share the same and that helps them to communicate better and understand the Bible better,” said Bautista.
While in the school auditorium the priests were presenting talks to the adults, outside the children were supervised by dozens of volunteers while they played in bounce houses, attended plays, had snacks, prayed together with Fr. Rivas and had many other kid-friendly activities. Rosa Ortiz was part of the group that helped with more than 300 kids.
“We help the parents with their kids and at the same time we are evangelizing the kids with fun activities and being able to teach messages from the Bible through having fun,” said Ortiz.
Meanwhile the parents and other adults listened to talks on themes such as Mary at the Cross, breaking curses from the past, hell does exist, the Eucharist is the food of our bodies, and the importance of healing our hearts, among others.
“These type of events are very important because people realize the necessities that they have,” said Lucero Muñoz, a lay ecclesiastic minister, adding that she was very excited for all the work that the Charismatic group is doing with this events.
“All the priests are great; hearing them has reminded people of our commitment as Catholics. For example, Fr. Teo said that we need to renew our faith every day, and sometimes we forget,” said Muñoz.
Remembering the words of one of the talks given by Fr. Rivas, who said that people should be aware that the Virgin is not God, she is only an intercessor, Muñoz said that “when we as Catholics don’t have a good formation is very easy that we get distracted by others. Here we are learning about our Church.”
As the talks from the priest were happening hundreds were in line waiting for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
“With the confessions and the talks, we can all free ourselves and welcome Jesus in our hearts,” Bautista said.