By Deacon Mark Krejci, Ph.D./Editor, OND
ORLANDO – Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner led a delegation of nine members of the Diocese of Crookston to the National Convocation of Catholic Leaders held in Orlando from July 1-4. The nation’s Catholic bishops called for this meeting to guide the Catholic Church in the United States in implementing Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on the new evangelization, “The Joy of the Gospel.” Delegations from 155 dioceses participated with over 3,300 delegates gathered from dioceses, religious orders, and other Catholic organizations.
A regular theme addressed during Mass, times of prayer, and in plenary and breakout sessions was the need for the Church to go out to those who are not part of the Church. Delegation member Dave Zavoral of Sacred Heart, East Grand Forks, summarized this by saying, “The Holy Spirit is calling the Catholic Church to search for those who are hurt and in need of healing and minister to them with mercy.” This sentiment was echoed and extended by Jayne Miller of St. Bernard, Thief River Falls, who said, “We should engage people with a spirit of missionary discipleship and work together to find new ways to reach those at the peripheries.”
The Crookston delegation went to separate breakout sessions which allowed for conversation between delegates from different areas of the country. Such topics as Understanding Inactive and Disconnected Catholics, Reaching Wounded Families, Reaching the Margins in Rural America and Parish Life and Catholic Ministry were discussed during these sessions.
Bishop Hoeppner was a respondent at the session titled “The Reality of Singleness in the Church.” During this session, panelists encouraged the Church to nourish singles and their growth in holiness and support them as they seek to be fully engaged in the Church. Bishop Hoeppner summarized his responses by saying, “I spoke about how the call to be missionary disciples for singles flows from Baptism.” He characterized the overall discussion as concluding that the Church needs to see singles as valuable missionary disciples.
The convocation concluded with a Mass of Sending with Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo serving as principle celebrant and homilist. After Communion, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, summarized the convocation in light of Pope Francis’ vision of the new evangelization. He said, “God has given the Church in the United States a new opportunity to be his witnesses and to bring the joy of the Gospel to others, to be in a permanent state of mission.” He concluded his remarks by saying, “As the apostolic nuncio I will also have the pleasure of announcing to the Holy Father how the spirit is alive in the Church in the United States.”
The delegates from the Diocese of Crookston will work to develop goals for bringing the convocation’s theme into the parishes. The Church has been called to reach out to those who are on the peripheries of the Church, have left the Church, or have never known God. It is anticipated that, over the next few years, a diocesan-wide conversation and action plan will be developed to form missionary disciples across the diocese.
To watch presentations from the convocation, visit: www.usccb.org/convocation