Hundreds of Hispanic and
Latino Catholics gather
for Archdiocesan VIII Encuentro

Participants in the Archdiocesan VIII Encuentro sang the entrance hymn, “Vamos Cantando al Señor,” during an opening Mass Sept. 4 at St. Rita Church on Preston Highway. About 300 members of the Hispanic and Latino community gathered. (Record Photo by Ruby Thomas)

Members of the Hispanic and Latino faithful who gathered Sept. 4 at St. Rita Church for the Archdiocesan VIII Encuentro heard from Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz that they’re to follow Jesus Christ completely — in the Holy Eucharist, in the words of God and in everyday actions.

The group of about 300, including families with young children, youth and young adults, came from 11 parishes across the Archdiocese of Louisville.

Under the theme “Somos Discípulos Misioneros” (We are Missionary Disciples), they spent the day in workshops and small groups discussing how to renew the family, minister to young adults and revitalize their parishes.

The day began with a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Kurtz, who shared with the large congregation that drawing close to Jesus Christ is the first step to becoming missionaries.

“We can’t be missionaries before we are disciples,” said the archbishop. “You and I need to pray first that in our hearts we will follow Jesus completely — in the Holy Eucharist, in the words of God and in our everyday actions. Then we will become missionaries.”

Archbishop Kurtz told his listeners they are hopeful people.

“St. Paul tells us we are people of hope. We may get discouraged in our daily lives … but we gather today as people filled with hope,” said the archbishop.

He also instructed the group to gather humbly. He called their attention to the reading from the Gospel of Luke, where the Pharisees criticized Jesus and his disciples for picking grain to eat on the Sabbath. The archbishop noted that Jesus spoke out against the leaders of his time who were always seeking to criticize.

Sandra Gonzalez and her children, from left, Kimberly, Evelyn and Angel, prayed the Lord’s Prayer during an opening Mass at the Archdiocesan VIII Encuentro Sept. 4 at St. Rita Church on Preston Highway. (Record Photo by Ruby Thomas)

Instead of criticizing, members of the faithful should seek to bring people together, he noted.

“We don’t push people away. We reach out to gather people in Christ’s name,” said Archbishop Kurtz.

The archbishop urged the gathering to make the most of the day-long event and to take time to discuss the three goals set out for them:

  • Renewing family life — “To renew love and commitment to your family.”
  • Ministering to young people — “Reach out to young adults within the church to welcome them and call them to be leaders.”
  • Revitalizing parishes — “That your community is something you feel is important and that you’ll bring to life again.”

The archbishop said he was proud of the day’s participants for gathering as a “family.”

“You are very important in the life of the church. Jesus needs you just like you need Christ,” he added.

Following the Mass, members of the Knights of Columbus presented a $500 donation to the Office of Hispanic Ministry which organized the Encuentro event.

Participants spent the remainder of the day in workshops, including one on the family’s role in the evangelization and mission of the church. It was presented to adults and married young adults by Dr. Claudia Bermeo Grajales, a psychologist from the Southeast Pastoral Institute in the Archdiocese of Miami.

There were also workshops for single young adults, high school and middle school students and groups for pre-kindergarten and elementary school students.

Father Mike Tobin, pastor of St. Rita Church, spoke to a group of middle school students during a workshop on “LLamados a ser Discípulos de Jesús” (Called to be Jesus’ Disciples). (Record Photo by Ruby Thomas)

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