WASHINGTON (November 15, 1999) -- Three new bishops have been named to the U.S. Bishops' Subcommittee on "Encuentro 2000: Many Faces in God's House."
The new committee members include Bishop Curtis Guillory, auxiliary bishop of Galveston-Houston, a member of the African-American Committee; Bishop Donald Pelotte of Gallup, New Mexico, one of the two Native American bishops in the bishops' conference, and Archbishop Theodore McCarrick of Newark, who attended the Synod for America and has traveled widely throughout the world as chairman of the International Justice Committee and as former chairman of the Committees on Migration and Refugee Services and for Eastern Europe.
Bishop Gabino Zavala, Subcommittee chairman, announced the appointments during the annual November meeting of the U.S. bishops during his report on Encuentro 2000.
"Many Faces in God's House: Encuentro 2000,'' is to be held July 6-9 in Los Angeles.
Bishop Zavala said that "Encuentro 2000 will bring together the many cultures within our Church."
"It is our hope that as many bishops as possible will attend with many representative people from their dioceses and parishes," he said. "We are proud that this Encuentro 2000 marks the first national gathering to recognize the richness of the Church's racial, ethnic and cultural diversity. We expect that each diocese will send representatives from all parts of the family of faith — the African, African-American, Asian and Pacific Islander, Latin American, Caribbean, Hispanic, Native-American, European, Middle Eastern and other communities. It has become what the Irish call a 'come-all-ye,' an example of novelist James Joyce's definition of Catholicism: 'Here comes everyone.'"
He noted several diocesan activities leading up to Encuentro 2000.
- In the Archdiocese of San Francisco, there will be a presentation at the Palace of Fine Arts during Advent. Entitled: All God's People, the presentation will highlight the stories in the life journey of each participating ethnic group expressed in songs, dance, rituals and symbols. San Francisco also is producing a concert entitled All God's People: A Celebration of Many Faces in God's House, with the participation of 12 different ethnic groups in the Archdiocese. The concert is composed of three parts. Part I is entitled "God's Hospitality" and will feature Burmese Royal Dance, a Tongan Penitential Rite, and Polish Dance. Part II is "God's Story with His People" and will feature the Chinese, Vietnamese, Croatian, Slovene, African Americans, Arabs, and Hispanic journeys of faith. Part III is "Giving Thanks to God" and will feature Koreans, Haitians, and Filipino.
- In the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Encuentro 2000 has been included in Philadelphia's nationally recognized Archdiocesan Evangelization Outreach.
- The Diocese of Galveston-Houston has promoted Encuentro beginning with a committee of leaders from the offices for Hispanic ministry, African-American ministry, Filipino Catholics, Vietnamese Catholics, youth ministry and Catholic education.
- In the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, the Encuentro program was reworked into a one-day meeting to be held in four different regions of the Diocese.
- In the Diocese of El Paso, every parish is conducting a monthly Encuentro, using themes outlined in the national handbook as well as topics of special concern to the diocese . A diocesanwide Encuentro is planned for June.
Bishop Gerald Barnes of San Bernardino and Chairman of the Bishops' Committee on Hispanic Affairs, spoke about the evolving nature of Encuentro.
"This Encuentro, unlike previous ones, celebrates the many cultures in our Church," he said. "As such, it is the perfect follow-up to Ecclesia in America, the Holy Father's exhortation from the Synod for America which urged all of us in North, Central, and South America and the Caribbean to see the Western Hemisphere as one land of one people -- Caucasians, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Native American, and all the other ethnic and racial groups which make up the unique complexion of this hemisphere."
"The Catholic community in the United States has become a microcosm of the universal Church," he said. "We are proud of this distinction. We claim within our 61 million Catholic population the best of every nation. We celebrate the unabashed expression of reliance on Jesus of the African-Americans liturgies, the very human love of devotion to the Blessed Virgin rooted in Latin America, the sense of the transcendent of our Asian communities, and the respect for God in nature, the heritage we receive from our Native American brothers and sisters."
Bishop Barnes added that "the previous Encuentros of 1972, 1977, and 1985 were gatherings of the Hispanic Catholic community to celebrate their faith and cultural heritage and to develop plans for the growing role of Hispanics within the Church. Encuentro 2000 is different. This time the Hispanic Catholic community is inviting Catholics from every racial, culture and ethnic community to work together to build a more inculturated Church. "
"This is a critical moment," Bishop Barnes said. "There is a need for U.S. Catholics to become more aware of the cultural diversity of the Church and its richness.... to reinvigorate parishes and dioceses so they will celebrate and utilize this diversity in service of the Church's mission ... to develop a richer sense of how the Church's sacramental life gives birth to and fosters mission, reconciliation, communion and solidarity."