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Encuentro delegates share their experiences with Bishop Burbidge

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Most of the 22 delegates from the recent National Fifth Encuentro in Grapevine, Texas, met with Bishop Michael F. Burbidge and Father José E. Hoyos, director of the diocesan Spanish Apostolate, to discuss their experiences and hopes Oct. 15.

Bishop Burbidge opened the meeting with prayer and gratitude. “Thank you for all being here, thank you for representing our diocese at the National Encuentro,” he said. “I heard Arlington was standing proudly.”

The gratitude was reciprocated as each delegate shared their responses to Bishop Burbidge’s questions about their experience at Encuentro and what they want to bring back to the diocese. Many delegates pledged their support to him as they replied.

“As a delegate I was part of the immigration breakout session,” said Gilmer Paredes, a parishioner of Queen of Apostles Church in Alexandria. “In the two meetings I participated in, we came to the conclusion that our diocese already has a program, but we are asking to take those programs out to the parishes, to take it from a central location out into the fields.” 

Paredes said the delegates asked for more support in relation to the DACA program, as well. “As you know, it was canceled so most of the participants were asking those with immigration programs to include more of the youths in the DACA program,” he said.

Delegates, including Juan Pablo Zelaya, spoke about the need to have more Hispanic priests in the diocese. Bishop Burbidge asked the delegates to pray for vocations from the Hispanic community. “You have to help me with that,” he said, adding that some seminarians are studying Spanish to help in the community.

Leah Tenorio, director of Hispanic Ministry at Good Shepherd Church, said the encuentro was inspiring. “I felt the bishops were part of what was happening. The bishops supported the call to action.”

Tenorio participated in the immigration breakout session and stressed the importance of changing the image of the immigrant in the media. “The church can help to highlight the good immigrants, and we should involve the youths and young adults to help through social media,” she said.

Bishop Burbidge said that the meeting did not mark the end of the encuentro. “In a way, encuentro is just beginning,” he said.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018