With a fervent desire to find better ways to serve Hispanics in the Archdiocese of Denver, 75 leaders from different archdiocesan parishes joined the national V Encuentro Conference Oct. 9 and 10.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the event was done partly in person and partly virtually, with the largest group meeting in Centro San Juan Diego and splitting in groups of ten, and smaller groups in St. Michael in Craig, St. Clare of Assisi in Edwards and Mother Cabrini Shrine.
“Great ideas were shared, and it’s precisely these types of dialogues that foster a joint pastoral approach. I’m very excited for the future and for everything we can achieve together for the good of our Hispanic Community,” said Alejandra Bravo, Associate Director of Hispanic Evangelization for the Archdiocese of Denver. “Now, more than ever, we must defend and provide spaces of encounter with the Lord for our families: parents, youth and children.”
The conference centered around family and youth ministry, the two areas that the leaders considered most essential in serving Hispanics in the archdiocese.
After every small group session, all archdiocesan groups would connect via conference call to share their thoughts. They would then join the livestreamed talks at the national level.
“The fruit I would like to see is that all Catholics in the archdiocese truly live out their faith, that we stop being superficial Catholics, learn more about our faith and become authentic witnesses,” said Teresa Mendoza, evangelization leader at St. Rose of Lima Parish. “And overall, it’s important that we have communities formed in the faith and capable of forming in the faith.”
Among the many ideas and desires discussed regarding family ministry, the leaders highlighted the importance of involving the family as a whole, the joint efforts of family and youth ministries, asking priests to be more present to their parish groups, providing more Spanish-language resources at the parish level and offering mental health support to families.
After the V Encuentro, the Hispanic Evangelization team at the Archdiocese of Denver has begun the arduous task of formulating a new Hispanic Ministry pastoral plan, taking these discussions into account.
Since its formulation and implementation is expected to be an ongoing process, the leaders will continue to meet periodically over the next year.
“It is by working together that we can make great changes, that we can proclaim the Gospel to those who need it most and also care for our community,” Bravo concluded.