Southwestern Indiana's Catholic Community Newspaper

Walking With Christ

By Sharon A. Burns, Special To The Message

Have you ever walked with Christ?  What did he look like?  What did he say?  How did you respond?  Literally, none of us has walked with Christ.  Yet, we have all walked with Christ.  We encounter Christ in every individual we meet, whether at work, play or prayer.  We even meet Christ at home, in our closest family members.

This article is the first in a series of three and describes the process of the national V Encuentro and the Diocese of Evansville’s participation in the deliberations.  The second article will contain a summary of the main diocesan and regional national concepts of the Encuentro consultation, including the gifts and opportunities, obstacles and challenges, and strategies for response.

Encountering Christ – being missionary disciples – was the theme of the V Encuentro (Fifth Encounter) which took place Sept. 20-23 in Texas.  More than 3,000 individuals, including bishops and cardinals, met at the national Encuentro to reflect upon and comment on the components of a pastoral plan for the care of the Hispanic and Latino people in the U.S. Church.  Our diocese sent three delegates who represented the more-than-200 individuals who had encountered the people of Christ in the Diocese of Evansville throughout the past 18 months.  (A presentation of the themes and outcomes of the previous four Encuentros was wonderfully presented by Sister Ana Marie Pineda, RSM, and is available at

Our local Encuentro process began with a Day of Prayer in February 2017.  Two hundred twenty-five parishioners from throughout the diocese met at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Dale to pray and learn about the Encuentro process.  Throughout 2017, five parishes held local Encuentros, praying with and then sending forth participants to talk with their Hispanic and Latino neighbors and friends about their faith and community needs.  We gathered the summaries of these encounters in a diocesan report (available at and forwarded them to our regional coordinators.

A compilation of the priorities of Region VII states (Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin) was presented in June of this year to more than 200 delegates from the region on the University of Notre Dame campus.  Evansville’s six delegates to the regional meeting worked with the other participants to identify the region’s top priorities in 10 area of faith- and community-development needs.  Our Region VII report was sent to the national committee for consideration.

The 12 counties of the Diocese of Evansville are home to an estimated 25,000 Hispanic and Latino people.  Most of those individuals and families are Catholi,c and many enthusiastically participate in the life of their parishes (six parishes have significant Latino populations).  Active involvement in the V Encuentro process allowed diocesan staff members, parish pastoral leaders and, most importantly, our Hispanic and Latino parishioners, to intentionally discern and discuss responses to the faith and community needs of our people.  The process to-date has been inspirational and informative and will guide us in fulfilling God’s call to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Burns is director of the Diocesan Office of Hispanic Ministry. Her series continues in the Oct. 12 issue of The Message.