Encuentro Latino 2017
By Melanie Williams (Aug 5, 2017)
Thousands of Latino Catholics came to the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy for this year's Encuentro Latino celebration.
9:30 a.m. — Father Dante Aguero, MIC, led pilgrims in songs of praise and worship. Latino pilgrims from all over the country joined their hearts in praise of Jesus and in honor of the Blessed Mother, the Virgin of Guadalupe.
Hector and Aidita Reyes from "Duo Preludio" also brought entertainment for the children, leading them in praise of Jesus and songs in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The Oblates gathered the children to teach them about the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe appearing to St. Juan Diego in 1531.
Hundreds of confessions were heard while several Marian and diocesan priests stationed the Confession tent throughout the whole day. The National Shrine of The Divine Mercy truly was a dispensary of grace, just as Jesus promised to St. Faustina, "The greater the sinner, the greater the right he has to My mercy" (Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalksa, 723).
Pilgrims were also able to adore the Lord throughout the morning in a tent designated especially for Eucharistic Adoration.
11:30 a.m. – Pilgrims joined the Marian Fathers and Brothers in a Rosary Procession around Eden Hill.
Although the sky poured forth rain briefly upon all of the pilgrims around 12:30 p.m., everyone took their seats for presentations on Our Lady and Divine Mercy and the Holy Mass. The Lord blessed them with abundant sunshine and a joyful celebration of the Holy Eucharist.
Father Dante commented, "Many of these people are very poor and work very hard. Many have left their homelands and made great sacrifices for their children to have a better life. Coming together today is very important for these people. We are all about family in our culture, and we love to sing. We are very emotional. Being together is like being in our motherland again, among our own brothers."
Father Dante was also the main celebrant of the Holy Mass, and he incorporated song and light heartedness into his homily, as he considered himself one among the Latino pilgrims. Father Dante is currently stationed as the house superior for the Marians in Argentina and he serves as a pastor at a local parish there.
Father Dante explained, "I am one among these people, and I want to bring the message of Divine Mercy to not only their minds, but their hearts. Music for us is how we pray from the heart. What we say is important, but even more is how we express it — and we express it from the heart."
Watch Fr. Dante's homily in Spanish here: