Skip to main content

Previous News Articles

The Florida Catholic

Hispanics gather as a family of faith

Gathering of people

JUPITER  |  About 500 Hispanics and Latinos from throughout the Diocese of Palm Beach gathered as a Eucharistic family May 26, 2024, for the 36th Diocesan Encuentro at All Saints School in Jupiter. With a special emphasis on social justice, the event marked the 40th anniversary of the diocese and the National Eucharistic Revival occurring in the United States.

Sponsored annually by the diocesan Office of Hispanic Ministry, Encuentro drew representatives from nearly 30 parishes to participate and boost their Catholic faith, with inspiring talks, rousing music and Mass with Bishop Gerald M. Barbarito in the school gymnasium. 

The keynote speaker was William Becerra, bilingual advisor for national Hispanic engagement with Catholic Relief Services, from Chicago, whose goal was to assist with the 2022-2030 Diocesan Pastoral Plan for Hispanic Ministry.

“Basically, I was just helping the Hispanic community to see how they can implement the pastoral plan that they have, but particularly the area of social justice,” said Becerra, who is originally from Colombia and holds a doctorate in ministry with a concentration on practical theology and focus on Hispanic theology and ministry from the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. “I was just trying to give some complete ideas and understanding of what we mean in the Catholic community about social justice because unfortunately there’s not enough education in this area.”      

He offered examples of ministries that demonstrate the church’s concern for social justice, such as Catholic Charities, the St. Vincent de Paul Society and Catholic Relief Services, which carries out the commitment of the U.S. bishops to assist the poor and vulnerable overseas. Becerra gave as an example the CRS Chapters and Clubs program, which trains and accompanies small groups to advocate for humanitarian aid, particularly in the areas of climate change and global hunger.

“The main idea was really just to clear the air, that it’s not about activism or joining a political party. It’s about civic life,” he said. “For us Latinos, it’s very important not only to live our call to missionary discipleship, but also pray for citizenship and build a more just world according to the values of the Gospel.”  

Becerra said his hope is to encourage Hispanics/Latinos to make social justice the lens through which they view their communities. “Not even to create something new but adding to the existing groups in the parishes,” he said. “A little bit of social justice, a little bit of being in solidarity with those in need. You don’t have to begin everything anew. You just start little by little integrating different aspects and activities.”

In his homily concluding the afternoon on the feast of the Most Holy Trinity, Father Duván Bermúdez, director of Hispanic ministry for the diocese, reflected on the family of love that flows from Father, Son and Holy Spirit.   

“We need to reflect this love in our diocese as a family,” he said. “A family to create us, to save us and sanctify us in our diocese through the Spanish communities in our parishes to create new communities, to continue to save our brothers and sisters, and especially with social justice. They need us, they need water, they need clothes, they need to be visited in the hospitals and prisons. We need to act in love for one another, and especially for the poor.”

At the liturgy’s conclusion, Bishop Barbarito spoke with affection for Father Bermúdez and his staff in directing Encuentro 2024.  

“I always look forward to this celebration of the Mass at this Encuentro with you,” he said. “This year we celebrate 40 years as the Diocese of Palm Beach, and the Hispanic community all during those 40 years has been an integral part of our family of faith. And during the years that I have been here, I have seen the Hispanic community grow all over the diocese. 

“What you are for us is a family of faith, as Father Duvan said so well in his homily tonight. As a family of faith in terms of your giving of yourselves, of your expression of your faith, of your living as family, is a great, great blessing to us,” the bishop added. “And our diocese is united through the faith that you, as the Hispanic community, portray in such an evident way, and the liveliness and the enthusiasm and the family that you bring to that faith. Thank you all so very, very much.”

To learn about Hispanic ministry in the Diocese of Palm Beach and read the Pastoral Plan for Hispanic Ministry, visit