By Ruby Thomas, Record Staff Writer
Close to 200 Hispanic Catholics, including 73 children and teenagers, spent the day in worship and faith formation during the third annual archdiocesan Encuentro (gathering) Sept. 19 on St. Pius X Church’s campus, 3521 Goldsmith Lane.
The event, themed La Familia y Su Misión (The Family and its Mission), was organized by the Archdiocese of Louisville’s Office of Multicultural Ministry, one of the 100 or so services agencies supported by the Catholic Services Appeal.
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz began the event with Mass, celebrated in Spanish and told those gathered that they are “very important to the life of the church.”
“As families, you are leaders because people are watching you,” said the archbishop.
Archbishop Kurtz also told congregation that he will be attending the 2015 World Synod of Bishops next month in Rome. Each delegate will have three minutes to present an “intervention,” he explained.
“My intervention will be on special families who not only care for themselves but for others,” he said. “I call them missionaries who accompany others.”
The archbishop referenced the Gospel reading in Luke, 8: 4-15, in which Jesus tells the parable of the farmer sowing seeds.
“Jesus said the word of God is given to everyone, but we must cultivate the soil in order to accept that word,” he said.
The archbishop noted that he spent nine years being formed as a seminarian at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia — one of the places the pope will visit during his U.S. trip this week.
“You are here today to be formed,” said the archbishop. “You need to be formed to be the best family you can be. Let the light of Christ shine through your life, then when people see you they’ll say, ‘There’s something special about that family. I want to be like them.’ ”
The archbishop went on to caution those gathered about things that can get in the way of that formation. The three temptations Jesus experienced — the temptations of possession, popularity and power — are ever present in the lives of the faithful, said the archbishop.
“The word of God comes into each of your hearts,” he said. “But if all you think about are possessions, popularity and power, the word of God will not penetrate. It’ll be as if it fell on hard soil.”
In addition to Mass, the day offered opportunities for prayer, the sacrament of reconciliation and a variety of workshops centered on the family.
Young adults took part in a workshop on “La Misión del Amor y el Significado de la Sexualidad Humana” (The Mission of Love and Human Sexuality). It was led by Father Rafael Capó — a priest of the Archdiocese of Miami and director of the Southeast Pastoral Institute.
He asked the young adults to name some of the challenges they believe are undermining families. The group said that materialism, a break down of communication and unfaithfulness are three of the issues families are struggling with.
“We need to build our families on our personal encounter with Jesus Christ,” said Father Capó during an interview at the event. “Though families are facing many obstacles, they are still called to a path of conversion.”
Father Capó said that Hispanic families have much to share with others — respect for life, respect for elders, a love of celebrating both family events and events related to their faith.
“I hope they (Hispanic Catholics) will become a beacon of hope for the archdiocese,” he said.
Father Capó said he believes Pope Francis’ visit will rekindle hope in the Hispanic Catholic community.
“I believe the pope’s words will confirm us in our faith and be a motor for our mission,” he said.
Father Capó added that Hispanic people are being “sent forth by the pope” and that now is the time for them to accept the call to be evangelizers of this “diverse” church.