Francisco Lara/Catholic Sentinel
Portlander Pedro Rubalcava, a leader of the national Encuentro, says listening allows all to be heard and will result in a guiding document on Hispanic ministry in the U.S. Catholic Church. 

Francisco Lara/Catholic Sentinel

Portlander Pedro Rubalcava, a leader of the national Encuentro, says listening allows all to be heard and will result in a guiding document on Hispanic ministry in the U.S. Catholic Church. 

The Catholic Church of the United States, including the Archdiocese of Portland, is getting closer to the start of Encuentro, an initiative of the U.S. bishops to hear the needs, challenges and aspirations of millions of Hispanic Catholics.   

In this, the fifth Encuentro (encounter), the bishops are ready to support Latino church leaders as they seek to transform Catholic ministry and guide Latino faith as a means of evangelizing the wider world. 

All Catholics are being invited to encounter their Hispanic brothers and sisters, especially those on the margins, says Pedro Rubalcava, an Oregon Catholic Press manager and a leader of Encuentro. 

Rubalcava visited the Archdiocese of Portland Pastoral Center in February to explain the process. He said Pope Francis has given it his blessing.

“It is for all,” Rubalcava said in Spanish and English sessions. “The idea is to introduce ourselves as we are. There will be all — young adults, people with education or perhaps people who do not know how to read — and all are going to be able to contribute their ideas.”

The objectives of Encuentro include calling all Catholics to be “joyful missionary disciples.” The yearlong effort will look for ways to engage Hispanic youths and invite them to live out their vocations. Organizers hope to stimulate a new wave of faith formation and leadership development. 

Parish events take place in the spring and diocesan events in the fall. Diocesan and parish leaders will reflect on situations and proposed responses. That all leads into a culminating national gathering set for Sept. 20-23, 2018, in Grapevine, Texas. A guiding document will emerge. 

“I think it’s a nice opportunity to continue building our people,” said Amparo Piedrahita, director of Hispanic ministry at St. John the Baptist Parish in Milwaukie. “It is also an opportunity for our bishops, priests and leaders to listen to the voice of the people.”

Deacon Felix Garcia, coordinator of Hispanic ministry in the Archdiocese of Portland, is urging Hispanic ministers in each parish to carry out the meetings. Some parishes started during Lent. Deacon Garcia is identifying leaders for an archdiocesan Encuentro.

Archbishop Alexander Sample has written to pastors asking them to take part. 

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