Encuentro: The V Encuentro process continues in Austin Diocese

By Allison Cavazos
Guest Columnist

“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Mt 28:19-20).
Though the V Encuentro parish sessions have concluded in most locations, the fruits of the process are still ripening and will continue to do so in months and years to come. Approximately 1 million individuals in more than 5,000 parishes and organizations throughout 175 dioceses in the U.S. are estimated to be involved in the V Encuentro process to fulfill the Gospel mandate to become and to form missionary disciples. In the Diocese of Austin, 52 percent of the 127 parishes are actively participating in the process, more than double the national average of 25.1 percent. 
As part of the parish process, participants engaged in missionary activity to the peripheries, “places where our sisters and brothers are vulnerable, excluded, traded as outsiders, living in fear, isolated, ignored, invisible” (V Encuentro Mission and Consultation Journal). They engaged in dialogue, learning the other person’s perspectives on life, faith and how the Catholic Church has been present for them. 
In addition to submitting feedback from their experiences for the diocesan report, delegates from each participating parish will gather in October for the Diocesan Encuentro at St. Edward’s University in Austin. The Diocesan Encuentro is an opportunity to reflect on shared or diverse experiences, propose practical responses to specific needs identified –– especially those pertaining to the Hispanic/Latino community, and make concrete commitments to advance the New Evangelization in parishes, small communities and other movements or groups. 
In his Message for the V Encuentro, Pope Francis said, “Our great challenge is to create a culture of encounter, which encourages individuals and groups to share the richness of their traditions and experience; to break down walls and to build bridges.”
Through the V Encuentro process, 1 million new missionaries in the U.S. and approximately 1,500 here in Central Texas are being commissioned to spread the joy of the Gospel to all corners of our nation. 
“The Church in America as elsewhere is called to go out from its comfort zone and be a leaven of communion; communion among ourselves, with our fellow Christians, and with all who seek a future of hope. We need to become ever more fully a community of missionary disciples, filled with love of the Lord Jesus and enthusiasm for the spread of the Gospel,” Pope Francis said.
May God continue to bless the efforts of the V Encuentro.
Allison Cavazos is the parish relations coordinator for Catholic Charities of Central Texas and a member of the diocesan V Encuentro team. For information on V Encuentro, call the diocesan Office of Hispanic Ministry at (512) 949-2426.