V Encuentro Calls us to Mentor Young Hispanic Women
October 4, 2018
By Sister Ivette Diaz
Since 1972, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has organized “Encuentros,” gatherings to build and enhance the participation of the Hispanic community in the Catholic Church.
From September 20-23, the V Encuentro in Grapevine, Texas once again drew 3,000 Hispanic/Latino leaders and delegates from around the United States to continue that important discussion. Sister Ivette Diaz shares her experience of being part of the V Encuentro as an exhibitor and a Latino woman at the event.
Participating in the V Encuentro was a profound and faith-filled experience for me. I did not know what to expect since this would be my first Encuentro experience. Being gathered with 3,000 Hispanics it was a moment of feeling great pride for our heritage and all that we have been able to contribute to the Catholic Church of the United States.
We are proud to be Catholic and Hispanic and we are poised and ready to take leadership in this church. We no longer want to live in the shadows. It was obvious that we have a rich cultural heritage that we want to share with the rest of the Church. I heard the collective voice of the group saying that we no longer want to have a parallel experience in the Church. We, Hispanics want to be included at all levels of leadership. Our young adults challenged us to include them at the table. They are ready to accept leadership themselves.
I heard about the need for further education for Hispanics in the Church. Theological formation is needed at all levels if Hispanics are to assume some leadership in the church. Family life is at the center of our heritage but within that family focus our faith plays a central role. How can we as Hispanics encourage our families to encourage their children to become priest and religious? There was much emphasis on encouraging families to develop within their families a culture of vocations.
What I witnessed also was a commitment to stay in the struggle. That even with the political climate in the United States excluding Hispanics that we must remain strong and support each other. There was a strong call for support from our cardinals and bishops. The need for them to take strong stances against unjust immigration laws and to advocate for immigrants and not to remain silent.
I think the invitation for Mercy is to find ways in which we can mentor young Hispanic women to become leaders in their communities. My hope is that we could possible consider finding ways to mentor Hispanic young women that attend our high schools and colleges to support them in their education. Many times they are the first in their families going to college and to have a Sister of Mercy mentor would be a wonderful way of supporting them to grow as leaders for the Church and their communities.