Inspired by Pope Francis’ call to create a culture of “encounter,” the Diocese of St. Cloud will host two major diocesan-wide events in September.
On Sunday, Sept. 24, Diocesan Encuentro (which means “encounter” in Spanish) will take place at River’s Edge Convention Center in St. Cloud. The event is part of the national V Encuentro process, a priority of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. It is a four-year process of discerning ways in which the church in the United States can better journey with the growing Hispanic/Latino population.
On the following day, Sept. 25, Diocesan Ministry Day will be held at the convention center. It is an opportunity to learn more about specific topics related to ministry in the church.
Both days feature keynote addresses, exhibits and Mass with Bishop Donald Kettler.
Christina Lamas, the executive director of the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry, will speak at the Diocesan Encuentro, while Bishop Frank Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut, will be the keynoter at Diocesan Ministry Day.
“These back-to-back gatherings are important events for our diocesan church and I strongly encourage your participation in both events,” Bishop Kettler told pastors and parish leaders in a letter last month.
He also encourages all parishes, religious communities and Catholic organizations to spend time during Lent reflecting on the theme, “Missionary Disciples: Witnesses of God’s Love,” which will be woven through both events.
Training sessions for people to lead small group discussions on five Encuentro themes inspired by Pope Francis’ call to create a culture of encounter — with Jesus Christ and one another — will be held this month and next. The themes are “Called to a loving encounter with Jesus,” “With words and actions: Do it!” “Walking together with Jesus,” “Bearing fruits of new life” and “Celebrating the joy of being missionary disciples.” (See below for more information.)
What is Diocesan Encuentro?
V Encuentro, the fifth national gathering, invites all Catholics in the United States to “intense missionary activity, consultation, leadership development and identification of best ministerial practices in the spirit of the New Evangelization,” according to its website.
Last April, a group of two priests and 10 lay people from the Diocese of St. Cloud traveled to Osceola, Wisconsin, to meet with other regional representatives working on the national V Encuentro process.
Following the trip, a team was formed in the summer to plan the local Diocesan Encuentro.
In addition to Lamas as the keynote speaker, the day also will consist of sharing stories, and large and small group discussions where facilitators will record and collect data to help prepare for the national event slated for Sept. 20-23, 2018, in Grapevine, Texas.
Additionally, there will be a component for children who attend the St. Cloud gathering focusing on the five themes of the V Encuentro.
Timothy Johnston, director of the diocesan Office of Worship and one of the co-chairs for the Diocesan Encuentro, said the event is an opportunity for the church in the St. Cloud Diocese to come together and assess needs in terms of future leadership and goals, especially in regard to Hispanic ministry.
“Because we are baptized people, we have a longing to enrich our understanding of the church. The church for centuries has been inculturated at the time and place where it is. Currently in the United States, the Hispanic community is growing and we as a church are not effectively ministering to that community or providing resources,” Johnston said.
“This is an exciting opportunity for all of us in the diocese to look at what our encounter with Christ is like,” he added. “And it’s also a time to look at what that means as we work with people within our parishes and the different groups within our diocese, what our needs are, what we are not doing well, what we are doing well, and how we are promoting Christianity within our own community and outside of our diocese as well.”
Diocesan Ministry Day
Diocesan Ministry Day, which started as an annual conference for Catholic schools and parish staff in 2006, is now a diocesan-wide event geared toward all Catholics looking to deepen their faith, especially those who work in any kind of ministry.
DMD has typically drawn over a thousand people from across the diocese who gather to hear presentations from local experts as well as international and national speakers.
Chris Codden, one of the event’s organizers, said this year is no exception.
“We’ve always had outstanding individuals at this event and we have an incredible lineup of quality speakers in store for this year as well. I believe no one will go home disappointed,” she said.
“We are really excited about this year’s format,” Codden said. “There are a few changes to the way the day will be arranged and I think that will really help attendees enjoy the day even more.”
In the morning, participants will hear a keynote address from Bishop Caggiano, who serves on several committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, including the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, and the Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis.
Participants also will choose from 13 workshops. The afternoon options are five core sessions that are longer and allow for more in-depth discussions.
More articles and information on the events and speakers will be published regularly in The Visitor and on the diocese’s V Encuentro/DMD website. Check back often for updates.