This past summer has been incredibly enlightening for me as a Hispanic Catholic millennial living in the United States. First off, the NCCL FCH Pre-Conference that took place on May 21, 2017 was another wonderful and fruitful gathering. We thank our speaker, Mr. Mario Paredes for his insightful presentation about transformative leadership in the Hispanic community.
In July, I attended the USCCB’s Catholic Convocation on the Joy of the Gospel in the United States. This gathering took place in Orlando, Florida, with more than 3,000 delegates from almost every diocese in the country. I was amazed by the energy and enthusiasm from the faith community. I was most impressed by the presence of all the Catholic bishops and their willingness and eagerness to spend quality time with the laity and listen to their concerns. It was an unprecedented event which left all the attendees burning with the fire of the Holy Spirit and excited to share with others their experience. The Hispanic/Latino community was very much present and given a space in most of the panels to discuss relevant needs and concerns.
At the end of July, I attended SCALA (Society of Latin American Catechetical Scholars), a gathering which took place at Boston College. I was able to listen to all the catechetical needs and issues transpiring throughout Latin America, as well as share insights from a U.S. perspective. The concerns with family, teens, declining mass participation, sexism, faith formation, and so much more, are quite similar but different at the same time. I realized times have changed and so must we, as a Church.
On Saturday September 16, 2017, the Archdiocese of Hartford held its Archdiocesan Encuentro for the V Encuentro. Again, another enlightening experience for me: the community gathering with so much hope and anticipation for a brighter future for the Church. The concerns for youth and young adults on behalf of the people informed me of their attention to the future. This may be due to many of their own children or grandchildren who are no longer active in the faith. The V Encuentro has as its priority, a preferential option for Hispanic/Latino youth. Of course at our Encuentro, there were many youth present voicing their concerns as well.
All of these gatherings have shaped me into a new leader. Forming missionary disciples of Jesus Christ is my new mission. Going out to the peripheries or extending my ministry to the abandoned peripheries is another new mission of mine—in life and in my ministerial work. I encourage you to read or reread the Joy of the Gospel and to live it each day. Let us, as Catholics, stop being so dull and rekindle that fire within us. Let us stop doing the same thing the same way and begin to do things differently; to think outside the four walls and begin to go out! This is what our Holy Father is calling us to do, and he is so right. Now is the time for change. Do not be afraid! We are all in this together.