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Diocese Holds Encuentros To Discern Response To Violence

We held a series of "encuentros" to reflect and discern about how we could respond to gang violence in our diocese. To confront the gang violence that was affecting families and neighborhoods in our diocese, we held "encuentros" at parishes to reflect, act and evaluate how we could address this issue. Concerned parishes then gathered together in larger “encuentros” and discerned four areas for response: creating more family activities within the institutional church; providing healthy after school activities in parishes, neighborhoods and cities; building a relationship of trust between communities and police; and making ongoing prayer foundational to our work. With the help of an organization that receives funding from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, we created a Covenant for Peace and gave public witness to the covenant by organizing a 5,000 person procession through gang territory, led by Bishop Garcia, who stopped to comfort the family of an 8 year old boy who had been shot earlier that week by gang cross-fire. Our prayerful action led to organizing and advocacy and resulted in the creation of several new youth recreation spaces in the community to keep kids safe.