Originally from “Hispanic young adults engage bishops, express needs at V Encuentro” – published Sep 22, 2018 – by Soli Salgado, Maria Benevento for NCR

Christopher Rivera pictured here with another V Encuentro participant.

Grapevine, TX – For Gerardo Vargas, the prospect of dining with a bishop seemed like a meeting with the “undercover boss.”

“He’s the person in charge, and there are so many steps before getting to the bishop. We can’t even get to the first one, let alone the tenth [step],” said the 22-year-old youth minister from Colton, Calif.

But on Sept. 21, Vargas and 700 other young adults got the opportunity to skip straight to the last step at the dinner that closed the second night of the National V Encuentro. The dinner brought together participants ages 18-35 with the approximately 130 bishops who attended.

The four-day Encuentro event gathered 3,000 Hispanic Catholic delegates Sept. 20-23, where a third of participants were young adults, including two Lasallian graduates.

Mr. Christopher Rivera, a graduate of La Salle Academy, New York, was also joined by Mr. Kevin Baez, a San Miguel School-Providence graduate.

Kevin Baez, seen here with Br. Alan Parham of the Midwest District.

During one conversation with the bishops, Pedro García from the Diocese of Knoxville said that he and other young adults told the bishop “we are hungry…We’re hungry for more to keep growing in our faith, in our vocations.”

He personally shared with the table that in his home diocese, where he volunteers with young adults and at retreats for youth, support from the bishop allowed them to hire a full-time diocesan employee to work with young adults. Since the hire three or four years ago, active young adult groups have grown sixfold.

San Antonio Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller said “it was a beautiful experience to be with the young adults in dialogue.”

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