Ministry helps Hispanic youth encounter Christ
Diocesan Encuentro held in Appleton is one of several ways the diocese reaches out
Second in a series on Bishop's Appeal 2006
By Carlos Hernandez
|CELEBRATING FAITH: Hispanic youth and young adults participate in the first Encuentro at Xavier High School in Appleton. (A story in Spanish on the Encuentro is on page 2 [print edition only]). Hispanic ministry is one of numerous ministries and services supported in part by the annual Bishop's Appeal. (Rick Evans photo)
in Green Bay Diocese
Spanish-language Masses are celebrated weekly at six parishes in the Green Bay Diocese -- St. Willebrord and St. Philip, Green Bay; St. Therese, Appleton; St. Thomas the Apostle, Newton; Sacred Heart, Oshkosh; and St. Joseph, Wautoma; every-other-week at St. Mary, Omro; monthly at St. Joseph, Sturgeon Bay.
The diocese also is presenting a monthly adult Hispanic faith formation series, Fe y Vida (Faith and Life) from 3 to 4:30 p.m. on the first Sunday of the month, through May 7, at five parishes in the diocese. Topics include the Bible, Living as Stewards and morality. The classes are being taught in Spanish by St. Mary Ann Spanjers, OSF, of Manitowoc; St. Marlita Henseler, OSF, of St. Philip Parish, Green Bay; St. Laura Zelten, OSF, of Notre Dame Academy; Rudy Pineda, the diocese's former Hispanic ministry consultant; and Carlos Hernandez, diocesan Hispanic ministry consultant. Classes meet at St. Therese, Appleton; St. Willebrord, Green Bay; St. Thomas the Apostle, Newton; St. Joseph, Sturgeon Bay; and St. Joseph, Wautoma.
APPLETON -- Some 150 Hispanic youth and young adults from the Green Bay Diocese took part in an unbelievable day at the first ever Diocesan Encuentro Jan. 22 at Xavier High School in Appleton.
They came in response to Bp. David Zubik's invitation "To explore fully how we can help all Hispanic young people feel welcomed, invited and appreciated in the Diocese of Green Bay and global Catholic Church."
Encuentro, Spanish for "encounter," was a part of a much larger organized effort by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the National Catholic Network de Pastoral Juvenil Hispana to give prominence and special attention to the rapidly growing Catholic Hispanic population in the United States. Half the Latino population -- just over 40 million people in the United States -- is under the age of 30.
The Encuentro and Hispanic Ministry in the Green Bay Diocese are funded in part by the annual Bishop's Appeal.
"Today was so great and so important to the young Hispanic Catholic Church," said Rich Curran, director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the diocese. "To see the great energy, faith and desire to bring the gifts of so many Hispanic youth to the Church of Green Bay was inspiring. The fact that so many showed up for the first ever gathering is a statement in and of itself."
Jorge Rivera, coordinator of Hispanic Young Adult Ministry for the Archdiocese of Chicago and a member of the National Encuentro planning team, began the day with a keynote address. His message was clear and direct: "You hold the leading role of your own story. You are the ones that will bring change -- but you have to believe that."
After the keynote address, participants spent five breakout sessions exploring the strengths and weaknesses of Hispanic Ministry at the parish and diocesan level. They began to consider ways to share their gifts with the larger church.
Although Bp. Zubik was unable to attend the day himself, he wrote to the participants encouraging them by saying, "Your presence here today as well as your presence and participation in your local parish is vital to the life of the larger church. Each of you brings unique talents and gifts to this event."
"Si se puede," ("Yes, we do") said Erika Sanchez, youth minister at St. Willebrord Parish, Green Bay. The Encuentro will provide an opportunity for all young Hispanic people to participate more fully and raise their voice in the process of proclaiming that Jesus Christ is alive and living in our hearts, she said.
Sr. Guadalupe Muñoz said she felt blessed to coordinate the Eucharistic Service with the jubilant youth and young adults; Bp Robert Banks presided.
A group who participated in the Encuentro will travel to Grand Rapids, Mich., on Feb. 17 for the Regional Encuentro. The first National Encuentro will be held June 8-11 at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind.
(Hernandez is director of Hispanic Ministry for the Diocese of Green Bay.)