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The I Encuentro Nacional Hispano de Pastoral, held at Trinity College, Washington, DC on June 19-22, 1972, was attended by over 250 participants. Most of the participants (72%) were men. The encuentro was attended by 8 bishops, 130 priests, 54 women religious, 2 men religious and by 15 lay women and 42 lay men.
The I Encuentro conclusions were:
The first encuentro called for a national episcopal committee for the Spanigh speaking, the establishment of a Secretariat (from a division for the Spanish-speaking), and the establishment of pastoral institutes. It also focused on issues affecting Hispanics at the national, regional and diocesan levels, Comunidades Eclesiales de Base, ministry, lay apostolate, liturgy, religious education and catechetics, Catholic schools, and the social and economic challenges of the time.
The II Encuentro Nacional Hispano de Pastoral, held at Trinity College on August 18-21, 1977, was attended by approximately 1,200 participants. Fifty bishops attended the event. There were 26 workshops.
More than half of the workshops were on Evangelization, which was the main theme of the encuentro:
Ministries for Evangelization, dealing with small Christian communities, bishops, priests, lay ministries, permanent diaconate, the contribution of women, the formation of ministers, the pastoral ministry to youth, liturgy and popular religiosity and special ministries and other pastoral areas;
Evangelization and Human Rights, dealing with the undocumented, migrant farmworkers, human rights of other groups and minorities, and economic and social issues;
Evangelization and Integral Education, dealing with integral education as a goal, recommendations for a system of integral education, responsibility of the church in integral education, religious education for Hispanics, responsibility of parents in integral education, and means of communication;
Evangelization and Political Responsibility, dealing with the active participation of the Christian community in the political process, citizenship and voting, political formation and education, active participation of the Church in favor of Hispanics, and the right to vote and change of laws; and
Evangelization and Unity in Pluralism, dealing with integration and unity in pluralism within the nation and the Church, unity in pluralism among Hispanics, Hispanic unity in faith and religiosity, and the family.
The III Encuentro Nacional Hispano de Pastoral, held at The Catholic University of America on August 15-18, 1985, was attended by over 2,000 participants from 123 dioceses. Fifty-six bishops were in attendance. The following are excerpts of the document on the process of the III Encuentro called "Prophetic Voices":
Evangelization. "Evangelization is the essential mission of the Church; the Church exists in order to evangelize. As the proclamation of the Word of God, it leads to the conversion of those who are to accept the Kingdom announced by Jesus. In this task, one must begin with the human person; every person is incarnated in a particular culture, time, and place.
An evangelization incarnated in a given culture is essential for all peoples, but it is especially important for the Hispanic people in this country. The temptation to cultural assimilation is constantly present, and in many cases it ceases to be only a temptation and becomes reality. This is not only contrary to the rights of the person, but also an affront to the Gospel itself. Evangelization is true to itself and reaches down to the deepest roots of the person when it is incarnated in a culture."
Integral Education. "Education that promotes the insertion of the human person into the historical task of the people is an inalienable right of each human being. This right is guaranteed by the Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations, and the Church has been an advocate for this basic right, especially by means of her encyclicals on social doctrine, the declarations of the popes of this century, and the great ecclesial events of our times, such as the Second Vatican Council, Medellin, and Puebla. This kind of education includes many distinct areas of human life, such as culture, language, and family, as well as the social, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual formation of the person, including vocational training.
Integral education is a global formation in the economic, political, social, cultural, family, and church aspects of life, which leads to maturity of faith and a sense of responsibility for history. Given the marginalized situation of our people, this form of education takes on a great importance in the process of liberation. As followers of Christ and members of the Church, we have found our raison d'être in the person of Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. As a result, integral education must be for us an evangelizing education that contributes to the total conversion of the person 'not just the innermost, individual ego of the person but also that person's peripheral and social ego. It should radically orient human beings to genuine Christian freedom, which opens them to full participation in the mystery of the risen Christ; i.e., to filial communion with the Father and to fraternal communion with all their fellow beings' (Puebla)
Integral education will prepare the person to observe, judge, and act with the mind of Christ, in the heart of the Church, for the promotion of the peace, justice, love, and truth of the Kingdom of God. The commitments made at the III Encuentro are based on this option and on the concrete reality people live."
Social Justice. The theme of "Social Justice" is central to the Christian life. Already, in the Old Testament tradition, we find a constant call to conversion, leading to a change of sinful structures as well as to personal conversion, the lack of which is, many times, the root of social injustice.
Social justice flows from the teachings of Jesus in a special manner. Faithful to her founder, the Church has sought throughout her history to respond to this challenge in different ways. She has established ministries, works of charity, and religious communities dedicated to the care of the less fortunate. In more recent times, she has addressed new areas of controversy, such as the social order, the right to work, a just salary, the foreign debt of nations, international assistance, relations between rich and poor countries, the problem of underdevelopment and development, as well as the models of communism and capitalism as systems that desire to respond to the multiple aspects of the social justice question.
During the last fifteen years, in the I, II, and III Encuentros and in the regional and diocesan encuentros, Hispanic Catholics across the country have been treating this theme as a constant because of their own social condition and because of an authentically Christian desire to build a new society and a Church that is an advocate and example of justice.
Youth. Youth are not merely the future of the Church but rather the young community of today's Church. Nonetheless, it is a frequent experience that they do not always feel this way but, instead, feel marginalized and overlooked. That is why youth have been one of the priorities throughout the process of the III Encuentro. Our youth are called to be bridges between the Hispanic and the North American cultures, thus integrating the good from both cultures.
Leadership Formation. Fulfillment of the Church's mission depends greatly on an active commitment of the baptized. Throughout the process of the III Encuentro, the people's reflections underlined a concrete preoccupation with a need for formation of their leaders. Certain key points appeared as a basis for the conclusions of the III Encuentro Nacional Hispano de Pastoral. These conclusions are to be situated and understood in the light of the specific reality described by people across the country.
The conclusions of the III Encuentro were used as a guide to formulate the National Pastoral Plan for Hispanic Ministry.
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