By Vatican News
Each year, from 15 September to 15 October, the United States marks Hispanic Heritage Month. In a statement released on Tuesday, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) noted that Hispanic Heritage Month this year is especially meaningful as the Catholic Church in the United States is “reaping the fruits of a four-year process called the V National Encuentro of Hispanic/Latino Ministry”.
The V Encuentro
The V Encuentro is an historic ecclesial gathering of 3,000 Hispanic/Latino Ministry leaders and delegates from dioceses, ecclesial movements, schools, universities and Catholic organisations from across the country. Throughout the years, the Encuentros have recognised how Hispanics/Latinos have been woven into the very fabric of Church and society in the U.S. for many generations.
The statement explains that the main goal of this V Encuentro has been “to discern ways in which the Church in the United States can better respond to the Hispanic/Latino presence, and to strengthen the ways in which Hispanics/Latinos respond to the call to the New Evangelisation as missionary disciples serving the entire Church and society”.
“As the formal V Encuentro process transitions into its implementation phase, it is clear that the numerous initiatives emanating from it show the enthusiasm and vibrancy of the Church,” said Bishop Arturo Cepeda, auxiliary bishop of Detroit and chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs. In order to help highlight this, said Subcommittee will be conducting a national V Encuentro event virtually on 9 and 10 October.
"This virtual gathering is designed to help dioceses, parishes, and Catholic organisations drive home the findings of the V Encuentro and assist them in identifying, creating, or fine-tuning their pastoral responses at the local level", explained Bishop Cepeda. The ongoing health and economic constraints generated by the COVID-19 pandemic impeded a good number of dioceses and regions from in-person gatherings to complete the V Encuentro process, as originally planned.
The statement concludes stating that at the national level, these priorities include leadership development, particularly of Hispanic/Latino young adults, a focus on strengthening marriage and family life, evangelization and catechesis with a strong scriptural component, vocational discernment, educational attainment, and generating responses to the pastoral challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has "disproportionately affected people of colour, particularly Blacks and Latinos".