Dr. Fernando Casanova addresses the crowd during the two-day Spanish-language evangelization conference in Trenton. Courtesy photo

Dr. Fernando Casanova addresses the crowd during the two-day Spanish-language evangelization conference in Trenton. Courtesy photo

From staff reports

St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton, was filled Nov. 3-4 with people eager to learn during the Conferencia de Evangelización y Formación 2018, a two-day Spanish-language evangelization conference.

The event, aimed to build on the process of the V Encuentro focusing on empowering and forming emerging leaders in the Catholic Church, welcomed keynote speaker Dr. Fernando Casanova, a Catholic evangelization speaker and professor of theology in the Spanish community. He spoke about one’s encounter with Christ and how that leads to a heart of discipleship.

“Pope Francis invites us to recognize and own our first vocation,” said Laura Rivas, associate director of Adult Faith Formation in the diocesan Department of Evangelization and Family Life, which sponsored the event. “As baptized Catholics, we are each called to be disciples of the Lord, which means being attentive to God.”

Leaders from 18 parishes across the Diocese of Trenton participated, as well as people from the Archdioceses of Newark, New York and Philadelphia, the Diocese of Camden and faithful from Delaware. Those who attended were excited to hear from Casanova, a former protestant minister from Puerto Rico who later converted to Catholicism.

Rivas shared that one of her hopes for the formation event was to continue the work of the V Encuentro. “It’s a process, as is being formed in our faith,” she said, highlighting the topics attendees learned about with Casanova. “This offers a good platform for people to understand their role as a disciple.”

Reflecting on the takeaways from the conference, Liliam Soler of St. Ann Parish, Browns Mills, shared that it can be challenging at times to live as disciples. “We may want to help our sister or brother, but they may not be in a place to accept or want the help. That’s why our outreach needs to come in diverse ways.”

Jenniffer Concepción of Our Lady of the Angels Parish, Trenton, reflected on her experience with an evangelical church. “God had mercy on me when I did not believe he was there. I came back to the true Church that Jesus Christ founded.”

Concepción said she could relate to Casanova’s conversion story. “It was moving to hear Dr. Casanova share about his own family and how much he cares for them and prays for their holiness.”

Said Rivas, “The people left feeling very full. The presence of the Holy Spirit was surely here.”