Encuentro Hero

Following Jesus is 'true happiness,' priest tells young adults at encuentro

HERNDON, Va. (CNS) -- Father Jose Eugenio Hoyos, director of the Hispanic Apostolate in the Diocese of Arlington, told a group of 600 Hispanic/Latino young adults at a regional encuentro that "true happiness is following Jesus."

The daylong encuentro, held at Herndon Middle School Oct. 28, was one of several being held all around the country as part of the U.S. Catholic Church's preparations for the Fifth National Encuentro, known as "V Encuentro," next September in Grapevine, Texas.

"You do not need to find happiness in drugs, in pornography, in the internet or in gangs," Father Hoyos told those gathered in Herndon. "True happiness is following Jesus, participating in the church and being in solidarity to change the current world."

The priest, who also is an adviser to the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, coordinated the encuentro. It was organized by young adults of the Arlington Diocese.

One of the objectives of the Herndon encuentro was for participants to meet, to pray together, "to share triumphs, sorrows, joys" and support the "Dreamers," who are the beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA.


CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

President Donald Trump has ended the Obama-era program and directed Congress to pass legislation that would keep DACA intact.

The regional encuentro also focused on organizing and sharing pastoral programs to help at-risk young people and to attract more young people to the Catholic Church.

Father Hoyos, in preaching to the young people, told them about their importance to the church and invited them to arm themselves not with tattoos on their bodies, but with backpacks full of faith, prayer, hope and joy. In this way, he added, the also could attract other young adults "to the feet of Christ."

He invited the young to be "the protagonists," because the church "awaits your ideas to be put into action."

CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

The daylong encuentro include a chance for the attendees to share their thoughts with Arlington Bishop Michael F. Burbidge -- and to dialogue with him.

He told them they had all his support and with regard to immigrants, he added that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the U.S. Catholic Church at large understands their needs and knows they can always be counted on.

The event ended with eucharistic adoration where young adults committed themselves to work hard, to open roads with the power of the Holy Spirit, "allowing themselves to be touched … transformed by the Holy Spirit, to leave behind fears, to accept the challenges of this new millennium."