TO THE EDITOR:
It was great to see your article in the November 2 issue of the R.I. Catholic on the meeting of folks from our Latino communities in preparation for their Fifth Encounter. What a great happening it was, with 250 representatives from the dozen or so parishes working through NINE HOURS of meetings! And their enthusiasm never seemed to wane.
One thing that I feel is well worth mentioning to your readers is this: There had been five preliminary encounters in each parish before this, then this Diocesan Encounter. There’ll be an up-coming inter-diocesan Encounter, and finally the National Encounter. They are all steps for the lay people, with their priests and bishops, to set the priorities for ministry among the Latino population across the country for the next ten years.
This plan begins and ends by listening to what lay people say are the needs that they and that their neighbors face in the U.S. today. With their combined wisdom, they search for how the Church — the bishops, priests and the laity together — should respond. The lay people are involved every inch of the way. And so they surely will be involved in the implementation of the plan. They’ll have that sense of “belonging.” The eventual plan will be “theirs.”
Just today, I read that Pope Francis is calling the whole Church to listen to the voices of the people, of all the people. They include Catholics, those who “used to be Catholics,” and non-Catholics. The pope said, “The Church is a listening Church, in which everyone has something to learn . . . We are one in listening to others, all listening to the Holy Spirit, to know what the Spirit is saying to the Churches.”
During that Saturday Mass at the cathedral there was so much joy, caring, and thoughtfulness — so much. I was amazed! The wonderful talk by 15 year-old Maridulce was incomparable! For more than 40 years the Latinos have given us something to imitate: Listen to the people! Listen! Reflect with them. Plan with them. Pray with them. Act with them. Isn’t that what the Spirit is saying to all of our Churches today?