V Encuentro retreat draws 29 young Catholic leaders

By Sedonna Prater

During the opening prayer of the retreat, youth light candles “as faithful disciples.”

Twenty-nine young leaders in diocesan Catholic schools stepped back for a day of reflection and a call to action through their participation in a V Encuentro retreat.

The retreat was held at the diocesan Christ Prince of Peace Retreat Center in Benton on May 11 and was the result of the joint efforts of the diocesan Catholic Schools Office, Office of Hispanic Ministry, and Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry, including the Pastoral Juvenil Hispana branch.

Focusing on the Holy Father’s exhortation “The Joy of the Gospel,” the students in grades seven through 12 explored what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. The retreat activities throughout the day centered on the five themes of the V Encuentro: Called to a Loving Encounter With Jesus, With Words and Action: Do It, Walking Together With Jesus, Bearing Fruits of New Life, and Celebrating Being a Follower of Jesus.

Brittany Koepke, diocesan Hispanic Youth and Young Adult Ministry coordinator, leads a talk during the V Encuentro retreat. Also pictured is Ore Pumariega, dean of students at Knoxville Catholic High School.

Additionally, with nearly 70 percent of all U.S. Catholics under the age of 18 being of Hispanic/Latino descent, the students were encouraged to reflect on their own mission and what the Church is calling them to do as young Hispanic leaders.

The students were further challenged to continue the missionary work of Christ’s disciples through sharing Christian love and using their God-given talents and abilities to serve others.

The students, representing Knoxville Catholic High School, Notre Dame High School, St. Joseph School, Sacred Heart Cathedral School, and Our Lady of Perpetual Help School, also shared information on what the Church and schools can do to promote active involvement of young people in the Church. This information will be analyzed, documented, and sent to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops along with information collected from other V Encuentro sessions held at parishes across the United States.

Father Julian Cardona, assisted by Deacon Al Forsythe, ended the day’s celebration with Mass.

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