By Deacon Jorge A. Gonzalez
On Tuesday, December 7, I had the blessing, along with another 40 Hispanic leaders for the Diocese of Brooklyn, to participate in the Synod process, under the auspices of the Diocese of Brooklyn Office of Hispanic Concerns.
Before we began with night prayer, Bishop Robert Brennan took the time to meet each participant and asked them from which parish they came from.
As I watched his interactions with those present in the church, I became more confident than ever that Bishop Brennan will follow the footsteps of his previous predecessors and walk closely with the Hispanic community of our diocese.
Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Octavio Cisneros explained to him that all of them participated in the V Encuentro Process — which seeks “to better recognize and promote the gifts and talents” that Hispanic/Latino Catholics can share with the Church and society — and were invited to come and participate in the Synod process.
During his homily, Bishop Brennan opened his remarks with, “I met some of you in Albany,” a reference to his participation in the Regional V Encuentro gathering in Albany, New York in 2018. This regional meeting was part of the preparation process that culminated with the Fifth National Encuentro that took place in September of that year in Dallas.
Bishop Brennan expressed gratitude for our willingness to integrate our V Encuentro experiences into the diocesan phase of the Vatican’s Synod on Synodality.
Such initiative reflects a “walking together,” Bishop Brennan said, a journey in which we help each other to grow in our faith, in our call to holiness, as we respond to the challenges of these times in society.
The Hispanic Catholic population today makes up more than 50% of the Catholics in our diocese.
For many years, we have contributed to the life of the Church with our faith, customs, traditions, and devotion, particularly, to our Lord Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the parishes to which we belong.
Being able to participate in this synodal process is one more example of how important this “Walking Together” is for us, to walk together as a Church, in communion with our brothers and sisters from other ethnic groups and nationalities.
For us, the community is essential in our journey, in our growth to holiness and participation in the mission of the Church. For this reason, being able to spend this time with our Shepherd and one another, reflecting on Synodality as a way to be a Church, as Pope Francis reminds us, is another form of responding to our baptismal call.
I was thrilled to see my brothers’ and sisters’ energy and enthusiasm as they, divided into groups, went on to reflect on the different areas assigned to them.
Before the final blessing, some of them expressed their joy for being able to share time with our new shepherd in the synodal process.
Others said they could now take the experience of contributing to the process back to their parishes.
This was a night to truly give thanks to the Lord.
Deacon Jorge A. Gonzalez is the director of diaconate formation of the Diocese of Brooklyn and served as co-chairperson of the diocesan V Encuentro Team.