By Reinaldo Pacheco

Special to the CS&T

I had the opportunity to participate in the Catholic Life Congress Saturday, Nov. 8 at Archbishop Carroll High School in Radnor.

Upon arrival at the congress, the staff of the Office of Vicar for Hispanic Catholics gave us a warm welcome, handed out materials and sent us on to the auditorium where the opening Mass was celebrated.

It was a beautiful Eucharistic celebration by Auxiliary Bishop Robert P. Maginnis, concelebrated by a group of priests from the Archdiocese.

After the Mass, we moved to the library to listen to the main presentation by Hosffman Ospino, a professor of pastoral theology and religious education at Boston College.

Ospino presented a good reflection on what it means to be a disciple-missionary, based on the work of St. Paul. According to Ospino, the requirements for effective catechesis are: (1) have a personal encounter with Christ, (2) accept the call of the Lord, (3) be involved in the construction of the Kingdom of God, and (4) be in close communion with the Church and its mission. He reminded us that the main mission of the Church is to evangelize and therefore all the baptized are called to carry out this mission.

Unlike previous years, after the main presentation, participants had the option of attending one of three workshops that were offered during the first session: women of extraordinary faith; challenges of bilingual catechesis in the new millennium; and St. Paul, the Apostle who wrote letters.

I chose to participate in the talk about the challenges of catechesis led by Dulce M. Jiménez-Abreu, a catechist, lecturer and staff member of Catholic publisher William H. Sadlier, Inc.

The talk was very instructive as she presented the statistics of the Catholic population in the United States and the great impact Hispanics will have in the Church. According to Jiménez-Abreu, the challenges we face are the secularization of society, the lack of priests, lack of catechists, the proliferation of religious sects and the lack of organization and planning in Hispanic ministry.

Her recommendations included developing training programs for catechists responsive to our needs as Hispanics, and development and training of leaders at all levels of the Church.

We also had the opportunity to work in small groups to discuss the challenges we face in our parishes. This short discussion was very productive because it gave us the chance to learn from the experiences of other participants.

The afternoon workshop options were again about St. Paul and the challenges of bilingual catechesis, with the addition of another: women disciples who evangelized alongside St. Paul. The congress ended with a closing prayer in the auditorium.

It was an enriching experience, and I had the opportunity to learn new things alongside friends, and to exchange ideas that can help in our work in building the Kingdom of God among us.

Reinaldo Pacheco is a member St. Agnes Parish in West Chester.