While evangelization has always been at the heart of the life and mission of the Church, there has been an increasing focus on and renewed sense of urgency surrounding it over the past fifty years. A brief glance at the statistics is enough to realize our culture is changing. Statistics aside, we all have parishioners whose friends or family members have either left or gradually drifted away from the practice of the Catholic Faith. However, there is also a growing hope and renewed evangelical focus, which gained momentum with Pope St. John Paul II in the New Evangelization and has continued through the pontificates of Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis. The Holy Father has called all in the Church to a “missionary conversion” and to be a Church which is “permanently in a state of mission” (EG 25).
Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America
In the summer of 2017 the United States Bishops along with Catholic leaders from around the country, gathered in a historic meeting called the Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America. The bishops and their diocesan delegates reflected on key points of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation on evangelization, Evangelii Gaudium. Speakers delved into the social and religious ‘landscape’ of our nation. Breakout sessions highlighted the peripheries and how to identify and reach them. Finally, each delegation had the opportunity to discuss and to ask the question, ‘What could missionary discipleship look like within our parishes and diocese?” Below is the Capstone Address given by Bishop Robert Barron:
Convocation of Parish Leaders
In order to more fully explore that question, the Dioceses of Crookston and Fargo co-hosted a similar event at the regional level called the Convocation of Parish Leaders on November 30-December 1, 2018. Bishops Hoeppner and Folda invited pastors and their delegates to reflect on the Church’s teachings on evangelization, missionary discipleship, and how to be a mission-oriented parish that seeks the lost and strives to be Jesus’ mercy and love in a world marred by wounds. The event equipped participants in basic evangelization skills and provided networking opportunities, as well as times of prayer and the celebration of Mass. Overall, the convocation began to equip delegates to go forth as missionary disciples and engage their communities with the hope and joy of the Gospel.
where do we go from here?
The Office of Formation in Discipleship is ready to help parish delegates in their work as missionary disciples. Here are some ways we seek to support the ongoing missionary work of the delegates in their home parishes:
Mount Saint Benedict Missionary Disciples Grant: The Sisters of Mount Saint Benedict in Crookston, through their charitable foundation, has awarded a grant to support the work of the delegates who attended the Convocation of Parish Leaders. Delegates can apply for micro grants to support their evangelization efforts. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION AND TO APPLY.
Shepherding Them Home: A common missionary need is right within our own families. The Shepherding Them Home program is a 6 hour (either over 4 nights or on a Saturday morning/afternoon) workshop for people who wish to reach out to a member of their family who is no longer practicing their Catholic faith. The workshop is provided by either Dcn. Mark Krejci or Bob Noel and is offered free-of-charge to any parish that wishes to invite them in. Participants will receive an overview of how to have the, at times difficult, conversations with the family member who may no longer be active in their faith and/or believe in God.
Resources from the Convocation: You will find a number of resources below. They include videos of the major speakers at the Convocation, remarks from each Bishop, a tri-fold guide with ideas for the work of missionary disciples, a personal commitment plan for missionary discipleship to one person or group, and a Post Convocation Resource Guide.