Leaders of Spanish-speaking Encuentro groups throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania recently gathered to reconnect and discuss matters of faith, part of the parish phase of the National Eucharistic Revival, designed to lead to better connection and devotion.
Encuentro galvanizes Hispanic leaders for Eucharistic Revival, Synod response
Eighteen people from parishes designated as Centers for Hispanic Ministry in the Diocese of Trenton joined more than 200 other delegates for the Region III Encuentro held in the pastoral center of the Diocese of Metuchen June 17.
Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., later commended the Trenton delegation's participation, saying, “The fastest growing group of faithful in the Diocese of Trenton are the members of our Hispanic and Latino communities. As Bishop, I am delighted to see their desire to grow and deepen in the Catholic faith through participation in the national Encuentro experience.”
The Bishop added, “We are blessed in the Diocese to have wonderful priests and lay leaders to minister to and support our Hispanic communities in our various parish Centers for Hispanic Ministry.”
Living the Eucharist as a Synodal Church
Newark Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R., Bishop Kevin J. Sweeney of Paterson, and 15 priests from across the region concelebrated Mass at the Encuentro, which had a theme of “Living the Eucharist as a Synodal Church.” The attendees listened to talks on the National Eucharistic Revival and the call to live as a synodal Church, and they participated in small-group discussions and prayer.
In his homily, Cardinal Tobin said Encuentro participants "are journeying with all the Catholics of this world along the synodal path ... listening, like the disciples on the Road to Emmaus, to discern how we must change to live a more abundant life. We are looking for more than new documents, because synodality is not a program, but a way of being Church.”
Jossie Ramos, Diocese of Trenton’s coordinator of Hispanic initiatives in the Department of Evangelization and Family Life, said the delegates attending the Encuentro “were so grateful to be a part of the larger Church, to see so many leaders dedicated to the Church’s mission."
Ramos note that two weeks before the event, a diocesan team met with the delegates to review what the Diocese has done during the past year of the Eucharistic Revival and to discuss the launch of the parish phase, which began June 11.
“We also had Jairo Torres, a member of the Diocesan Synod team, present an overview of how the Synod worked in our Hispanic community, and the most common answers [shared during] the small-group sessions added to the final report.”
Pastors Support Diocesan Delegation
Three pastors were part of the Trenton delegation: Fathers Carlos Florez, diocesan Hispanic Ministry liaison and pastor of St. Barnabas, Bayville; Jorge Bedoya, pastor of Jesus the Good Shepherd, Beverly; and Carlos Aguirre, pastor of Our Lady of the Angels, Trenton.
Maria del Rosario Urbina of St. Mary Parish, Barnegat, who was the reader for the Encuentro Mass, said she was enthusiastic about helping "to foster an opportunity for young people to know Jesus in the Eucharist.”
The National Eucharistic Revival, which began last June, spent a year focusing on revival of Eucharistic devotion at the diocesan level. After the coming year focused on the revival in parishes, more than 80,000 Catholics of all ages are expected to gather in Indianapolis for the National Eucharistic Congress. The final year of the three-year revival begins once the congress ends; it will focus on going out on mission, ending during the worldwide Jubilee Year in 2025.
The Synod of Bishops on synodality began in October 2021 with listening sessions worldwide. The first of two general assemblies will be at the Vatican in October; the second assembly will be in 2024.
A day before the Encuentro gathering, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops voted to implement a 10-year plan to address the pastoral needs of Hispanic/Latino Catholics.
The bishops’ National Pastoral Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry devotes 62 pages to how best to respond to the needs of about 30 million Hispanic/Latino Catholics in the country and how to strengthen such ministries at the national, local and parish level.