Local team members committed to spreading the joy of the Gospel, working as missionary disciples throughout the diocese
The just-concluded Convocation of Catholic Leaders placed renewed focus on missionary discipleship and going forth in unity. Both themes were integrated into the convocation, which was organized by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The event, the first nationwide meeting of Catholics in a century, took place July 1-4 in Orlando, Florida.
Nine representatives of the Diocese of Cleveland, Christopher Knight, superintendent of schools for the diocese; Terrie Baldwin, director of the diocesan Office of Evangelization; Hortensia Rodriquez, Office of Catholic Formation and Education; Deborah Martin, St. Stanislaus School in Cleveland; Father Michael McCandless, diocesan Vocation Office; Anthony Miranda, St. Rocco Parish, Cleveland; Father Stephen Vallenga, Propagation of the Faith office; Vanessa Griffin-Campbell, African-American Ministry office; and Christina Hannon, Coalition for Young Adults, were among the 3,000 Catholic leaders from around the country who were in attendance.
Discovering the landscape of the church with an eye towards renewal of spirit for all led to an exploration of ways to look for and reach out to people on the social and physical margins of our own communities, including some who we previously may not have seen, Baldwin said. The third day was focused on work and witness, both the words and actions each of us can utilize to bring hearts to Christ.
Unique to the event was an opportunity for delegates to contribute thoughts and questions to bishops during keynotes and breakout sessions. In addition, there were opportunities for all to celebrate daily Eucharistic celebrations. An evening prayer service of love and mercy, an evening of witness, praise and worship, an adoration chapel and confession were well attended.
The last day focused on being sent. The delegation team, led by Knight, met on the last day to share thoughts and feelings on what was gained from the conference. A feeling of empowerment by the Holy Spirit, personal conversion, renewal of heart and the need to go out to encounter and accompany others in a diverse mission field of our faith communities were described collectively, Baldwin said.
Griffin Campbell said the key to embracing diversity will be teamwork among all: lay people, clergy and diocesan staff. She said the church doors should not be open just on Sundays, but always.
Together the team hopes to provide an overview of the spirit of the convocation, summary of the sessions attended as well as offer personal witnesses to the Joy of the Gospel as an inspiration to others to go forth to witness their faith in both words and action, to any office or organization, who are united with us in creating a movement of missionary disciples throughout the Diocese of Cleveland.
“The convocation was an unprecedented gathering of over 3,500 bishops, priests, deacons, sisters, consecrated religious and lay leaders from over 80 percent of the dioceses in the country. The intermingling of groups and engaging dialogue among all present surfaced exciting directions for our ministries and a renewed spirit for evangelization,” Knight said.
See what Catholic News service and the National Catholic Register had to say about the conference.