An encounter with Congress

The Most Reverend Jaime Soto, the ninth Bishop of Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento in California.

The V Encuentro (Encounter) is essentially an encounter with Christ. It is also an opportunity to evangelize, by reaching out to our neighbor and finding in him/her, the face of Jesus. Undoubtedly, the V Encuentro is the response to Pope Francis call to become missionary disciples.

The process for the V Encuentro has helped the Catholic Church to identify how to better serve the Latino Community in the United States. This consultation, which started at the parish level, has undergone through the diocesan levels. Now, it has reached the regional levels and will conclude, next September, with a national Encuentro in Grapevine, Texas.

The V Encuentro has already bear fruits. It has outlined the challenges of evangelization, has identified the achievements of the Hispanic ministry, and it has lifted the Hispanic presence within and without the Catholic Church.

The consultation is a call to deepen our role as missionary disciples, who are not only actively pursuing charitable work, but social justice as well. This process also has been an opportunity to facilitate an “encounter” between our communities and their members of Congress.

Bread for the World and Catholic Relief Services, the humanitarian agency of the catholic community in the United States, have participated jointly in the Encuentros at region X (Texas-Oklahoma-Arkansas), and region XI (California-Nevada-Hawaii) to lift up the voice of the catholic community in Congress.

During these two regional Encuentros, thousands of catholic Latino leaders wrote approximately 3,000 letters to Congress, advocating to:

  • Protect our government’s budget for humanitarian aid that protects refugees and immigrants.
  • Protect funding for programs that help reduce hunger and poverty in the United States (WIC, SNAP, and the Earned Income Credit).
  • Pass a permanent legislative solution for Dreamers–young people that only know the United States as their home, that includes a path to citizenship. This is a justice matter that is impacting our faith communities and requires immediate attention.

The Latino catholic community is committed to lift up its voice to end hunger in the United States and around the world. Therefore, with these advocacy actions, we are pressing forward to an encounter with our lawmakers.

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