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Four-year 'encuentro' process begins in the U.S.


  • Leaders in ministry to U.S. Hispanic Catholics stand in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican in 2016 with the Encuentro cross. They are from left: Alejandro Aguilera-Titus, national coordinator of the Fifth Encuentro; Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San Antonio, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church; Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles; and Mar Munoz-Visoso, executive director of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church. (CNS photo/Robert Duncan)
  • Members of Our Holy Redeemer Church in Freeport, N.Y., pass a sponge soaked in water during a team competition at the annual Encuentro gathering in 2016 at Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, N.Y. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz, Long Island Catholic)
  • Father Manuel Dorantes, pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in Chicago, talks with Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles during the 2016 opening Mass of the Catholic Association of Latino Leaders annual conference in Chicago. (CNS photo/Karen Callaway, Catholic New World)
  • Mar Munoz-Visoso, executive director of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church, speaks during the 2016 Catholic Association of Latino Leaders conference in Chicago. (CNS photo/Karen Callaway, Catholic New World)
  • Father Rob Irwin, pastor of St. Jerome Catholic Church in Jerome, Idaho, celebrates a Nov. 1, 2015, Spanish-language Mass for his predominately Latino congregation. (CNS photo/Chaz Muth)

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WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In Spanish, the word "encuentro" means encounter and in the modern church in the U.S., it refers to a series of meetings that will take place over the next four years aimed at getting to know Latinos and producing more involvement in the church of its second largest and fastest growing community.

"The intent is for Latinos to have an encounter with the entire church and for the church to have an encounter with Latinos, understanding who they are, how they think, how they live their faith, so we can work together and move together and build a church together," said Mar Munoz-Visoso, executive director of the Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

A recent report by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University commissioned by the U.S. bishops shows that more than half of millennial-generation Catholics born in 1982 or later are Hispanic or Latino. Those numbers alone call for the church to have a plan of how it will bring Latinos in the U.S. into the church's leaderships roles, its vocations and their role in society, Munoz-Visoso said.

"You cannot plan the future of the church without having an important conversation about this population," she told Catholic News Service. "This effort is very important."

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