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
Last summer 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 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?”
Convocation of Parish Leaders
In order to more fully explore that question, the Dioceses of Crookston and Fargo are co-hosting a similar event at the regional level called the Convocation of Parish Leaders on November 30-December 1, 2018. Bishops Hoeppner and Folda are inviting pastors and their delegates to delve into 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. This event will equip participants in basic evangelization skills and will provide networking opportunities, as well as times of prayer and the celebration of Mass. Overall, the convocation will begin to equip attendees to go forth and engage their communities with the hope and joy of the Gospel.
What do we hope to accomplish through the Convocation for Parish Leaders?
The convocation will offer parish leaders the opportunity to reflect on key questions and begin to discuss what a culture of missionary discipleship could look like in their parishes and the steps to take to bring it to fruition. The convocation is not an end in itself; it is a tool to build off for continued discussions and planning among parish leadership.