SALT LAKE CITY — Diocesan delegates from the V Encuentro visited the Spanish-speaking lay ecclesial ministry formation (Emaus II) group the weekend of Jan. 27.
The diocesan V Encuentro is comprised by more than 375 missionary disciples and delegates from all over the diocese. They were trained in response to a national initiative supported by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The V Encuentro “is a process of evangelization, consultation and mission that was officially launched last year to discern ways for the Church in the United States to better respond to the ever-growing Hispanic presence, and to help Hispanic Catholics to strengthen their Christian identity and their response as missionary disciples for the entire Church,” according to a press release from ENAVE, the national organization that coordinates the Encuentro effort.
The V Encuentro sessions were originally presented to 165 delegates from parishes throughout Utah who attended a five-week evangelization training. They then passed the information along to members of their parishes, who became missionary disciples of the V Encuentro.
Those in the Emaus program are training to become lay leaders in their parishes. Participants come from parishes and missions throughout the diocese. One weekend every month the 65 participants attend a class as part of the four-year intensive curriculum in four main areas: human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral.
During the weekend presentation on the V Encuentro, the delegates, along with Maria-Cruz Gray, director of the diocesan Office of Hispanic Ministry, gave a briefing of the five-week evangelization process.
The V Encuentro “is not just a process to unify all the Catholics on the peripheries, but everyone is welcome. Besides, this is a process of the New Evangelization,” Gray said, adding that the team from Emaus II “are leaders from all over the diocese, they are the leaders from today and they are the leaders of tomorrow. ... In order to be a complete leader, they have to do what the United States Catholic Bishops told us to do as a priority.”
Having the V Encuentro delegates speak to those who are training to become Hispanic lay ecclesial ministers “means an opportunity to learn more, to persevere more,” said Jose Fernandez, a St. Ann parishioner who is a member of the Emaus II group. “The V Encuentro is a call that expresses that they want us to go out and evangelize.”
Jorge Olayo, one of the diocesan V Encuentro delegates, said he was happy to be able to be at the presentation with his brothers and sisters.
“We have to make an effort to go out and evangelize, and this is what we are doing. ... But this is reciprocal because they are also evangelizing us,” he said.
Francisco Hernandez, a St. Thomas Aquinas parishioner and a participant in the Emaus II, agreed.
“For me this is a call; an invitation that Jesus is making once more to us: ‘Go out to the peripheries and evangelize.’ ... This is something great,” he said.
The next step of the V Encuentro process will occur in the spring, when 44 diocesan representatives will share the local recommendations at a regional conference.
Following that will be a national conference, at which 22 delegates will represent the Diocese of Salt Lake City.