More than 3,200 Hispanic ministry leaders and about 125 bishops from across the country processed into the conference center in Grapevine, Texas, to kick-off the highly anticipated Fifth National Encuentro for Hispanic Ministry, which will continue to unfold over the next three days through Sept. 23. Following a multiyear process of prayerful discernment and consultation in parishes and dioceses in the U.S., leaders from around the country have come together seeking answers to how the Church can respond to the growing Hispanic population and develop a new pastoral plan that will address its many challenges.

Bishop Felipe Estévez, center, poses with delegates from Region XIV as they prepare for the opening procession of the Fifth National Encuentro for Hispanic/Latino Ministry in Grapevine, Texas. (Photo courtesy of Alba Orozco)

Delegates from the Diocese of St. Augustine, accompanied by Bishop Felipe Estévez who also serves as the chair for Region XIV of the Southeast Pastoral Institute for Hispanic Ministry, are in Texas to take part in the conversation with the hopes of setting a new path and vision for Hispanic and multicultural ministry in the Diocese of St. Augustine. “This is a monumental opportunity to show how culturally diverse contributions can enrich the life of the Church in the United States,” said Bishop Estévez. We are excited to open the doors to present and future dialogue as we strive for greater unity in the Church and a deeper, more intimate encounter with Christ.”

Those counted among the delegates from St. Augustine are seminarians, Armon Antolin and Alex Sanchez, both of who are serving in their pastoral year at Holy Spirit and Blessed Trinity Parishes in Jacksonville. Join us on Monday, Sept. 24 at 11:00 a.m. on the Diocese of St. Augustine Facebook page for a live event as Armon and Alex sit down with Father Richard Pagano to reflect on their experiences following the Encuentro conference.

For more information on the V Encuentro conference, visit www.vencuentro.org.