What a way to spend the July 4th weekend! The bishops of the United States decided to have a gathering in Orlando, Florida (wouldn’t January have been better?) entitled, “Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America.” This all flows from Pope Francis’ letter, Evangelii gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel). The aim is to set the entire Church in the United States on the trajectory of forming our Catholics to be missionary disciples, especially disciples who are filled with joy because of Christ.
There will be a group of folks accompanying me from the Diocese of Lansing, mostly younger folks who will be expected to carry on the leadership of this activity in years to come. We are very blessed in our diocese as the Holy Spirit has been working so powerfully in our midst these past six years through our assemblies as we have sought to build up the Household of Faith and then as we have reached out to the Lost Sheep. This gathering in Orlando should re-energize us as we prepare for our Third Assembly on September 22, 2018 at the Breslin Center (put it on your calendars!). In addition, a number of other folks who live in our diocese and who are involved in their own evangelizing efforts will be in attendance, making our delegation a rather significant presence. We will spend time in Orlando looking at the landscape in the United States, that is, to whom are we being sent as disciples of the Lord. Secondly, we will reflect upon what it actually means to be a missionary disciple of the Lord, especially one filled with joy, a joy which is attractive to a world seeking real meaning and value. Thirdly, there will be the challenge for all of us to escape our comfort zones and go where the Spirit is leading us and in ways that the Spirit is leading us. And finally, there will be occasions to speak about practical ways to accomplish the mission before us. Most of the dioceses in the United States have committed to being present for this event. It is a great blessing to have so many on the same page working to fulfill the command of Jesus to Go and Announce the Gospel of the Lord. The prayer, which I invite you to pray, for this event is as follows:
O Holy Spirit, you who first enkindled in our hearts the joy of the Gospel, renew that same joy in those who are preparing for the Convocation of Catholic Leaders.
Enflame the hearts of our bishops and their diocesan delegations; leaders of national organizations and movements; clergy, religious and laity; all who make this event possible; and Catholic leaders across the United States.
Move us to welcome the word of life in the depths of our hearts and respond to the call of missionary discipleship.
O Holy Spirit, transform our hearts and enable us to enter into the perfect communion that you share with the Father and the Son. Amen.