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The Annual Appeal contributes to a lasting difference

Salina — If you could make a lasting difference in the life of one person, would you do so?  

We all have an opportunity to make a difference in not just one life but many lives, young and old, by donating to the 2017 Catholic Community Annual Appeal (CCAA). This year’s CCAA,”The Lord is Good to all; He has Compassion on all He has made,” seeks to raise $1 million to help fund the day-to-day operations of our ministries throughout the Diocese of Salina. From subsidizing Catholic schools to funding youth and adult programs, the CCAA helps to educate young and old about their faith.

This year’s CCAA donors are encouraged to make one-time contributions or pledge a gift amount monthly or quarterly through the end of the year. As of Feb. 28, $573,630 has been pledged toward the 2017 goal. The 1,877 gifts received to date represent 10 percent of the households of the diocese. Four parishes already have met or exceeded their goals. But there is so much more to accomplish before the end of the year. 

This weekend, March 11 and 12 there will be an in-pew solicitation for the CCAA to give to people who have not had an opportunity to make a donation to do so. Pledge cards and envelopes will be available in all parishes for those who need them. 

All registered parishioners received a packet with a letter from Bishop Edward Weisenburger in February asking for their prayerful consideration and support of this important appeal. Those who did not receive a packet and would like to receive the above-mentioned packet can call the Office of Development at (785) 827-8746, or they can donate online at salinadiocese.org/development/catholic-community-annual-appeal. At the beginning of the appeal, Bishop Weisenburger shared an audio message at all Masses. The message in English and Spanish also can be found on the diocesan website. 

Here are the ministries that are supported through the appeal, “The Lord is Good to all; He has Compassion on all He has made:”

  • $200,000 for seminarians, deacons, vocations, priests’ continuing education
  • $154,250 for Catholic schools subsidies
  • $109,000 for Catholic education and formation
  • $132,500 for priests’ retirement
  • $126,500 for priests’ health care
  • $ 163,000 for diocesan administration
  • $ 50,000 for five national collections
  • $ 49,000 for Family Life and Natural Family Planning
  • $ 9,000 for Catholic Charities of Northern Kansas
  • $ 6,250 for Respect Life.

From ball diamond to Deacon

The Register

Salina — Seminarian Andy Hammeke’s spirituality was something that grew over time. During his fourth year of college, he moved into a house directly across from the Comeau Catholic Campus Center in Hays. 

“I’d come home from baseball practices and see people walking into daily Mass,” Hammeke said. “I didn’t have anything better to do and (seeing students go to daily Mass) started playing on my conscience, so I started going (to daily Mass) more regularly.”

Hammeke will take another step in his vocation when he is ordained a transitional deacon April 22.

The ordination begins at 10 a.m. at Sacred Heart Cathedral. All are invited. 

Hammeke has been studying at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in Saint Meinrad, Ind.

Typically, a seminarian has one year of school left after being ordained a transitional deacon before his ordination to the priesthood.

A Hays native, Hammeke began his studies in 2012 after earning a bachelor’s degree at Fort Hays State University. 

Hammeke, 27, is the son of Curtis and Annette Hammeke of Hays, the grandson of Denis and Arlene Stastney of Dwight, Neb. and the late Norman and Jolene Hammeke.

He grew up in Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Hays and attended Thomas More Prep-Marian Jr.-Sr. High School. Upon graduating from TMP, Hammeke attended Fort Hays State University, playing baseball for the university.


Fourth Sunday of Lent: Genesis renewed

This coming weekend, the fourth Sunday of Lent, we will hear the familiar Gospel of the man born blind who is miraculously granted sight by Jesus. As with much of the Gospel, there is literal truth found in this passage, but there are just as many deep spiritual truths that can be grasped only by those who truly wish to see. Indeed, the great church father Origin once wrote “to be holy is to see with the eyes of Christ, to see the world as Christ sees it, from God’s perspective.”  I’m left to wonder if perhaps Origin had this weekend’s Gospel passage in mind as he spoke this eternal truth.

In looking carefully at the biblical passage, one of the most significant points about the story is that it notes that the man was “blind from birth.” But the passage, in the original Greek language, uses the word “genesis” — as in, the man was blind from his “genesis.” Clearly there’s a double meaning here of both “birth” and “creation.” As an old friend of mine, Msgr. Daniel Mueggenborg, points out in his excellent book of biblical reflections “Come Follow Me,” that the text reveals that Jesus comes to establish a new creation, a new Genesis in each of us. 

Moreover, the gestures Jesus uses are striking. Just as God in the Book of Genesis creates Adam from the mud of the earth and places God’s own spirit in Adam, so now Jesus touches a new mud to the blind man’s eyes — a mud infused with Jesus himself (symbolized by spittle). Jesus, who describes himself as the light of the world, then sends this man who has journeyed in darkness his entire life, to wash in the waters of Siloam — a word that means “Sent One.” Here again, the “Sent One” is yet another term that always points to Jesus. And while it is significant that Jesus heals the man from his physical blindness, it is perhaps far more profound that in an encounter with Jesus the man is re-created and granted the ability to see — not merely physically, but as in to understand. 


Columbaria dedication set for April 1 at Mt. Calvary in Salina

Salina — Hopefully, the third time will be the charm for the blessing of  the Mount Calvary Columbaria.

“The first time, everything wasn’t quite ready and the second time it was rained out,” said Nancy Jaquay, the manager of Mt. Calvary Catholic Cemetery. “This time it will happen, regardless.”

The public is invited to attend the blessing at 11 a.m. April 1 in the northwest corner of Mt. Calvary Cemetery, off of Iron Street in Salina.

Closed in 2005 to allow All Saints Cemetery the chance to become established, Mt. Calvary had few spaces left.

“I was getting calls continuously from people who wanted space at Mt. Calvary,” Jaquay said. “Father Frank Coady and I were talking that more people are going to cremation. We thought ‘Why not set up a columbarium for cremated remains?’ It would allow people to still be in the same cemetery as their ancestors and family members.”

Plans were made and in 2016, the columbaria — with six granite blocks and room for 504 inurments behind solid granite doors — was placed.

Since its opening, three sets of remains have been inurned. Additionally, about a dozen slots in the columbaria have been sold.

“Surprisingly, I thought the niches that would be sold faster would be ion the inside that face the altar and cross,” Jaquay said. “The people buried there wanted to be on the outside, looking over the cemetery.”

Bishop Edward Weisenburger said the new columbaria offers a way for Catholics to merge cremation with Catholic ritual.

“In our Catholic faith the cremains are to be treated the same as an intact body would be treated,” Bishop Weisenburger said. “ Cremation is an acceptable means of respectfully disposing of our bodies upon death, but the Universal Norms of the Catholic Church stress that the cremains are to be buried in the ground or placed in a mausoleum or columbaria, just as we would treat an intact body.”

For more information about purchasing a columbaria spot, contact call Jaquay at (785) 823-7221.

Motherhouse Dinner is a family affair

For The Register

Concordia — Yes, there was spaghetti, of course. And prize drawings and a bake sale and tours of the historic Nazareth Motherhouse. Yes, there was a silent auction and even a quilt sale, along with live musical entertainment, grab-bags and Easter baskets.

Yet what there was most of was family — cousins and siblings and nieces and grand-nephews and … well … family of every description, who came to the annual Spaghetti Dinner March 12 hosted by the Sisters of St. Joseph for something of a family reunion.

Many arrived in big bunches of family, spanning three or four generations. Others came in ones and twos to remember an aunt, great-aunt or other relative who had been a Sister in Concordia.

“I never met her,” said one young woman of a great-aunt who had been a Sister and is now buried in the Nazareth Cemetery behind the Motherhouse, “but this place and these women were such important parts of her life … I just wanted to be here.”

She and her family were among hundreds of guests, along with untold volunteers, sisters and staff, who filled the Motherhouse for the spring fundraiser. 

Kitchen staff, buoyed by volunteers, served a record 625 dinners and the event raised $10,927 to benefit the ministries of the Sisters of St. Joseph.

Musicians performing were the Bent Wind with a Kick, John Paul Breault, Sarah Jeardoe, Amber Rogers and Sheri Johnson.


Tipton student wins poetry competition

Salina — Sarah Katsiyiannis, a senior at Tipton Catholic High School, was named champion of  Kansas State Poetry Out Loud Champion for the second consecutive year.

The competition, presented in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, is part of a national program that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance and competition. Beginning with school competition, winners advance to regional finals, then to the state competition and ultimately to the National Finals in Washington, DC. 

At the Kansas state finals, which was held at the Salina Community Theater on March 4, six contestants each recited three works they had selected from an anthology of more than 900 classic and contemporary poems. Katsiyiannis’ interpretation of “In School Days” by John Greenleaf Whittier, “The Nail” by C.K. Williams and “August 12 in the Nebraska Sand Hills Watching the Perseids Meteor Shower” by Twyla Hansen earned her top rankings for the second straight year.

Katsiyiannis competed at the national competition last year and is excited to return to D.C. to have another chance to compete.

“Last year’s experiences and the opportunities that blossomed from it made Sarah even more determined to reach Nationals again in 2017,” teacher and coach Cheryl Germann said. “She began vetting new poems to perform almost immediately after returning from the 2016 finals and spent countless hours practicing them; her passion for poetry is evident in both her dedication and in her performances.”


Agricultural document presented, discussed

Russell —  Executives from Catholic Rural Life were in the Salina Diocese Feb. 25 to present “The Vocation of the Agricultural Leader” document and glean feedback from local farmers and ranchers.

Jim Ennis, Executive Director of CRL, presented the document to an audience of 55 at St. Mary Queen of Angels Parish in Russell.

Previously, Ennis gave similar workshops to farm organizations such as the Farmers Union in various locations. The workshop in Russell was the first to be given at a diocese. 

The document, which was presented, is a faith-based resource for leaders in food and agriculture. The goal is to integrate faith, food, and the environment for leaders in agriculture. It was inspired by a document “Vocation of the Business Leader,” which was published in 2012. Ennis, the Executive Director for Catholic Rural Life and also President of the International Catholic Rural Association (ICRA), said a similar document for agriculture was needed. He was told to compile such a document.

Beginning with a national symposium on Faith, Food and the Environment, in November 2014, and followed by an international gathering in Milan, Italy in June 2015, various focus groups and other stakeholders were encouraged to contribute their perspectives to the document. Pope Francis presented his encyclical “Laudato Sí, on Care for Our Common Home” in 2015. This also influenced the document “Vocation of the Agricultural Leader.”


Featured Events

Catholic News Headlines

  • By Carol ZimmermannWASHINGTON (CNS) -- Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the papal nuncio to the United States, gets plenty of questions about Pope Francis.A March 27 discussion at Georgetown University, sponsored by the university's Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life, was no exception. The nuncio, who sat onstage with John Carr, the initiative's director, was asked about the pope's key issues and his impact in the four years since his election. Instead of emphasizing the pope's special qualities or accomplishments, Archbishop Pierre, who has been in the Vatican diplomatic corps for almost 40 years, stressed how Catholics are called to view the pope and essentially work with him in the mission of spreading the Gospel. He told the audience, nearly filling a campus auditorium, that it is not a question of whether the pope is good or bad or if one agrees with him or not. The issue, for Catholics, is to discern what the Holy Spirit is saying through the pope. "We have to pay a lot of attention to the person of the pope and to his message and to his testimony because the pope is not just words but he is also actions and actions that are powerful words," the nuncio said. Archbishop Pierre, who was appointed to the U.S. post by Pope Francis last April, would not comment on the pope's approval ratings compared to politicians nor would he address the current political climate, but he stressed that one's personal faith can't be separated from daily life and that people need to use discernment even in civic duties like voting. When asked about care for migrants in today's world, he said Christians should be the "soul of this country" and Catholics should follow the example of Pope Francis who goes out to the borders and reaches out to those who are broken and those who suffer. "The church is in the business of evangelization," he added, saying this works best when the church "goes outside herself" to meet people where they are. And in a pointed statement to this country, he added: If America is the center of the world then it has "a huge responsibility to help others." When the nuncio was joined on stage by other panelists, they reiterated the importance of the pope's message that has come across just as much from his actions as his words. To sum up the pope's message to Catholics today, Ken Hackett, former U.S. ambassador to the Holy See and former president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, looks to the example of the pope's visit to the United States in 2015 where the pope's presence, in front of Congress and with the poor, and his words at each stop made Catholics proud of their faith. Kim Daniels, a member of the Vatican's Secretariat for Communications, said the pope's message has resonated not just with Catholics but also with those who have heard him even through social media. She said he has made the call to live out one's faith "something that's concrete and not abstract" and something "we can do right here, right now, where we are." For Maria Teresa Gaston, managing director of the Foundations of Christian Leadership Program at the Duke Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina, the pope has been clearest on his message of community, telling people, including "those who are undocumented: You are loved and valued." She also points to his message to youths at World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro in 2013 as something that still resonates with her. He told the crowd "not to be afraid, to take risks and to be courageous" stressing they should prepare for "courageous and prophetic action in solidarity with the earth and with the poor." - - - Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim.- - -Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/Edgard Garrido, ReutersBy David AgrenCUERNAVACA, Mexico (CNS) -- An editorial in a publication of the Archdiocese of Mexico City condemned Mexican companies wishing to work on the proposed wall being built on the U.S.-Mexico border as "traitors." "What's regrettable is that on this side of the border, there are Mexicans ready to collaborate with a fanatical project that annihilates the good relationship between two nations that share a common border," said the March 26 editorial in the archdiocesan publication Desde la Fe. "Any company that plans to invest in the fanatic Trump's wall would be immoral, but above all, their shareholders and owner will be considered traitors to the homeland," the editorial continued. "Joining a project that is a grave affront to dignity is like shooting yourself in the foot." President Donald Trump ran on a promise of constructing a wall between the United States and Mexico and has signed an executive order to begin building the barrier on the nearly 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border. The Mexican government has repeatedly said it will not pay for any border wall. Security analysts say illegal merchandise mostly crosses through legal ports of entry and express doubts a wall would keep out drugs, as Trump insists. Catholics who work with migrants transiting the country en route to the United States express doubts, too, saying those crossing the frontier illegally mostly do so with the help of human smugglers, who presumably pay bribes on both sides of the border. Some Mexican companies have mused about working on the wall, though others such as Cemex -- whose share prices surged on speculation it would provide cement for the wall -- told the Los Angeles Times that it would not participate in the building of a border barrier. Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray Caso has urged company officials to use their conscience when considering work on the wall, though the archdiocesan editorial said, "What is most surprising is the timidity of the Mexican government's economic authorities, who have not moved firmly against these companies." Desde la Fe has previously blasted Trump's proposed policies. In September 2015, it called Trump "ignorant" and a "clown" and blasted Mexican government passivity in defending its migrants as "unpardonable." Father Hugo Valdemar, Archdiocese of Mexico City spokesman, told Catholic News Service some conservative Catholics in Mexico viewed Trump's positions on pro-life issues favorably and were still angry the U.S. ambassador to Mexico marched in the annual pride parade. But he said he knew of no one in Mexico that openly supported the U.S. president. "What we see from him is an authentic threat and an unstable person," Father Valdemar said.- - -Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/Rick Bajornas, UNBy Carol GlatzVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Today's threats to global peace and security must be countered through dialogue and development, not nuclear weapons, Pope Francis told the United Nations. "How sustainable is a stability based on fear, when it actually increases fear and undermines relationships of trust between peoples," the pope asked in a letter sent to a U.N. meeting on nuclear arms. "International peace and stability cannot be based on a false sense of security, on the threat of mutual destruction or total annihilation, or on simply maintaining a balance of power," he said in the message, released by the Vatican March 28. The message was read aloud at the U.N. by Msgr. Antoine Camilleri, Vatican undersecretary for relations with states. The pope's message was sent to Elayne Whyte Gomez, president of the U.N. Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, Leading Towards Their Total Elimination. The conference was being held at the U.N. headquarters in New York March 27-31, with a follow-up meeting June 15-July 7. A number of nations -- many of which already possess nuclear arms -- were boycotting the negotiations to ban such weapons. These included the United States, France, the United Kingdom and about 40 other nations. Some continue to support the Non-Proliferation Treaty to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology. U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley told reporters in New York March 28 that it was the responsibility of leaders to keep their nations safe. "There is nothing I want more for my family than a world with no nuclear weapons. But we have to be realistic," Haley said. "In this day and time, we can't honestly say that we can protect our people by allowing the bad actors to have them and those of us that are good, trying to keep peace and safety, not to have them," she said. However, Pope Francis said in his message that the strategy of nuclear deterrence was not an effective response to today's threats to peace and security: terrorism, cybersecurity, environmental problems and poverty. "Peace must be built on justice, on integral human development, on respect for fundamental human rights, on the protection of creation, on the participation of all in public life, on trust between peoples, on the support of peaceful institutions, on access to education and health, on dialogue and solidarity," he said. The world needs "to adopt forward-looking strategies to promote the goal of peace and stability and to avoid short-sighted approaches to the problems surrounding national and international security," he said. The complete elimination of nuclear weapons is "a moral and humanitarian imperative" that should prompt people to reflect on "an ethics of peace and multilateral and cooperative security that goes beyond the fear and isolationism that prevail in many debates today." Making a total global ban possible will demand more dialogue, trust and cooperation. "This trust can be built only through dialogue that is truly directed to the common good and not to the protection of veiled or particular interests," he added. Humanity has the ability, freedom and intelligence to work together to "lead and direct technology, to place limits on our power, and to put all this at the service of another type of progress: one that is more human, social and integral," he said. - - - Follow Glatz on Twitter: @CarolGlatz.- - -Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • By Carol GlatzVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- People should stop blaming and complaining so they can be filled with God's joy and rise up to life's challenges, Pope Francis said. Forgetting what joy is and languishing in self-pity come with the sin of sloth, the pope said March 28 in his homily during morning Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae. "It's a terrible disease: 'Well, I'm comfortable as is, I've gotten used to it. Life, of course, has been unfair to me.' You see resentment, bitterness in that heart," he said. The pope's homily was a reflection on the Gospel of St. John reading in which Jesus heals a lame man at the pool of Bethesda. A large number of people who were ill, blind or crippled gathered at the pool because it was believed if a person immersed himself just when the waters were stirred by an angel, he would be healed. Jesus saw a lame man, who had been waiting by the poolside for 38 years, and asked him, "Do you want to be well?" Pope Francis said, "This is beautiful; Jesus always asks us this: Do you want to be healed? Do you want to be happy? Do you want to make your life better? Do you want to be filled with the Holy Spirit?" If Jesus had asked any of the other people there desperate for help, the pope said, "they would have said, 'Yes, Lord, yes.' But this was a strange man" because instead he started complaining about how he had no one to help him into the water and everyone else always managed to get in before him. The man is like a tree planted near streams of water, but he cannot grow and prosper because his roots are dried up, "those roots don't reach the water, he couldn't take in the well-being of the water," the pope said. "This is a terrible sin, the sin of sloth. This man was ill not so much from paralysis, but from sloth, which is worse than having a lukewarm heart," he said. "It is living, but only because I am alive and have no desire to go on, have no desire to do something in life, to have lost his memory" of what joy is. But Jesus does not scold him, the pope said; he tells him to rise, take his sleeping mat and walk, which he does, disappearing into the crowd, without saying thank you or even asking Jesus his name. "Sloth is a sin that paralyzes, makes us lame. It doesn't let us walk. Even today the Lord looks at each one of us, we have all sinned, we are all sinners," the pope said, but Jesus still looks and "tells us, 'Rise.'" Everyone is asked to pick up his or her sleeping mat and walk, "take your life as it is, beautiful, terrible" whatever it's like and go, the pope said. "It is your life, it is your joy," he said. The Lord is asking, "Do you want to be healed?" Do not be afraid to say "yes," ask for help and go toward the waters. "Quench your thirst with joy" because it is the joy of salvation, he said.- - -Follow Glatz on Twitter: @CarolGlatz.- - -Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/Robert DuncanBy Rhina GuidosWASHINGTON (CNS) -- In Spanish, the word "encuentro" means encounter and in the modern church in the U.S., it refers to a series of meetings that will take place over the next four years aimed at getting to know Latinos and producing more involvement in the church of its second largest and fastest growing community. "The intent is for Latinos to have an encounter with the entire church and for the church to have an encounter with Latinos, understanding who they are, how they think, how they live their faith, so we can work together and move together and build a church together," said Mar Munoz-Visoso, executive director of the Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. A recent report by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University commissioned by the U.S. bishops shows that more than half of millennial-generation Catholics born in 1982 or later are Hispanic or Latino. Those numbers alone call for the church to have a plan of how it will bring Latinos in the U.S. into the church's leaderships roles, its vocations and their role in society, Munoz-Visoso said. "You cannot plan the future of the church without having an important conversation about this population," she told Catholic News Service. "This effort is very important." While the numbers of Latinos in the church are growing, "there is a gap between the numbers of Latinos in the pews, and the numbers of Latinos in leadership, and the numbers of vocations, or (Latino students) in Catholic schools," Munoz-Visoso said. The first part of encuentro, as the process is called, started in early 2017 and it's the fifth such process of its kind. Encuentros in the U.S. church took place in 1972, 1977, 1985 and 2000, but the Fifth National Encuentro, also known as "V Encuentro," is expected to be the biggest one of its kind in terms of attendance. Participants first meet in small Christian communities at the local level to discern, dialogue, reflect about faith and the baptismal call, Munoz-Visoso said. Later in the year, parishes will hold parish encuentros of their own, which will later lead to diocesan, regional and finally a nationwide encuentro, set for Sept. 20-23, 2018, in Grapevine, Texas, in the Diocese of Fort Worth. The final part is a "post-national encuentro" that will include publishing a national working document about ways to implement what was learned during the process. Encuentro organizers hope the process will yield an increase in vocations of Latinos to the priesthood, religious life, permanent diaconate, an increase in the percentage of Latino students enrolling at Catholic schools, and create a group of Latino leaders for the church, as well as an increase Latinos' sense of belonging and stewardship in the U.S. church. At the fall 2016 meeting of U.S. bishops in Baltimore, Boston Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley expressed concern that the younger generations of Latinos "is a demographic that is slipping away from the church and I think we have a window of opportunity and the window of opportunity is closing." Many Latinos are "joining the ranks of 'nones,'" said Cardinal O'Malley, referring to the growing number of Americans who are choosing to be unaffiliated with any organized religion. "We have very few, relatively, Hispanics in our Catholic schools. They're underrepresented in our religious education programs, and I'm hoping that the outreach that is going to be done as part of the preparation for this 'encuentro' will make a difference," he said. Munoz-Visoso said Latinos are being courted by all kinds of groups, not just other church denominations. "And we are at this juncture in history where we have this dilemma, where the majority of the Catholic Church in the country is becoming Latino, but at the same time, more Latinos than ever are leaving the church," she said. "So, we have to address this situation because we have to really engage them, re-enamor them, their faith and make sure they're committed to their faith." For those wanting to become involved, they can contact their local parish to see if the parish is involved in the process. More than 5,000 parishes have signed up to participate, said Munoz-Visoso.Parish-level encuentros take place this May and June. Diocesan encuentros will take place in the fall in more than 150 dioceses with a total of 200,000 participants. The regional encuentros are slated for March-June 2018, with 10,000 delegates expected to attend. The regions conform to the U.S. bishops' 14 episcopal regions. Then comes the Fifth National Encuentro in Texas, which will have as its theme "Missionary Disciples: Witnesses of God's Love." This is then followed by the post-encuentro working document.Alejandro Aquilera-Ttitus, assistant director of Hispanic affairs in the diversity secretariat, is national coordinator of the Fifth National Encuentro.The materials for the encuentro meetings were designed so they could be used by small and large groups, Munoz-Visoso told CNS, and there are dioceses that plan to use them with migrant workers in the fields, among prison populations, on university campuses, in prison ministry and in military services so that U.S. service men and women who want to participate can do so anywhere in the world. "The intent is for Latinos ... but we're inviting everybody (to participate), if they want to have it in their community," Munoz-Visoso said, adding that the website www.vencuentro.org has information about getting started.- - -Follow Guidos on Twitter: @CNS_Rhina.- - -Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.