By Dennis Sadowski
(CNS) — The 3,000 people attending the upcoming Convocation of Catholic
Leaders are being seen as members of diocesan teams who will return home to act
on what they see and learn while discussing the church’s role in a changing
guidebook and journal has been developed to help the delegates prepare for the
gathering in Orlando, Florida, set for July 1-4.
68-page book offers activities for the diocesan teams as they meet during the
weeks leading to the gathering, allowing them to reflect and pray on Scripture
and the teachings of Pope Francis, particularly his apostolic exhortation “Evangelii
Gaudium” (“The Joy of the Gospel”).
get something done, we want people to have prepared as teams before they come
in to get more out of (the convocation),” said Jonathan Reyes, executive
director of the U.S. bishops’ Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development and a convocation planner.
“What you get out of this is what you put into it.”
The booklet is being sent to
each registered participant to the invitation-only event. It also is available
online to anyone interested in learning more about the convocation at bit.ly/2rR6OTY.
Reyes told Catholic News Service
that the guidebook encourages team members to plan which sessions to attend that
fits with the goals of their diocese in building a church built on mercy and
“In the ideal world, it’s
forming a team that brings together people from the peripheries who are not
normally together. This book is what’s going to help them think as a team
before they get there. It gives them some things to reflect on together,”
“We’re trying to make clear
that this isn’t the kind of thing you attend passively and that bishops and
leaders are meant to be integrated in a conversation of the whole church
together and experience the conference not as the bishops over there, the laypeople over here. It’s actually meant to be everyone mixing together in conversation,”
The guidebook offers numerous
Scripture citations and references to passages from the pope’s exhortation.
Delegates are encouraged to read some of the passages and pray about what they
mean for their particular role in the convocation and the church at home.
A separate section includes
space for journal entries based on the discussion of each day of the
convocation. The idea, Reyes said, is to allow participants the opportunity to
reflect in the moment and then return to their writings when they return home.
“It’s spiritual preparation
as well,” Reyes said of the book. “It’s deeply scriptural and there’s
a lot of “Evangelii Gaudium” as well as some other key church
documents from the bishops. It’s a lot of Scripture and a lot of Pope
The convocation is meant to
guide people to build the church that Pope Francis is calling people to shape,
“We didn’t want to create a
program. This (convocation) is for people to design or think through together
what mission looks like. Pope Francis says again and again, ‘Don’t do the same
old things.’ You want to think creatively. So we’re not going to put together a
program, but people are going to experience, hopefully, in a way that gives
them a way forward, a vision for their own,” he said.
Meanwhile, more than $500,000
had been pledged to support scholarships for people attending the convocation. Reyes’ department and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development have allocated
$100,000 each in financial assistance. The Black and Indian Mission Office has
pledged another $300,000.
The goal of such scholarships is
to allow diverse voices to be on hand in Orlando, Reyes said.
“If there’s a Francis
inspiration in this, it’s let’s not just talk, (but) act,” he told CNS. “So
we are pushing action, action, action through proper preparation.”
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Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski.
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