BLOOMFIELD, Conn. (CNS) – Unity in Christ and respect for everyone’s gifts, cultures and traditions lead Catholics to share the faith as a stronger community. That was the message Hispanic leaders from episcopal Region I South heard when they met May 12 to discern challenges and opportunities in the church at St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield. “Our roots and traditions keep alive the sustenance that is Jesus Christ,” Father Diego Jimenez told nearly 300 delegates at the regional encuentro. “Christ guides us to build the church, to joyfully announce the Gospel from our personal realities.” The regional gathering was one of several meetings taking place as part of the National Fifth Encuentro, or V Encuentro, which is a multiyear process to listen to the needs, aspirations and faith practices of Hispanic Catholics. Regional encuentros are the penultimate phase before the national encuentro, or encounter, planned for Sept. 20-23 in Grapevine, Texas. Region I South is formed by the Archdiocese of Hartford, Connecticut, the dioceses of Bridgeport and Norwich, Connecticut, and the Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts. Back in March, delegates from seven dioceses in Region I North – made up of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island and parts of Massachusetts, including the Boston Archdiocese – congregated for their regional encuentro.