June 24, 2017

Diocesan delegation to attend national convocation of Catholic leaders

By Sharon Roulier

(IObserve photo by Sharon Roulier)

SPRINGFIELD – The Diocese of Springfield is sending eight representatives from a half dozen ministries to join more than 3,000 Catholic leaders as they  convene in Orlando, Florida, during the July 1-4 “Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America.”  

The first of its kind gathering will be an historic event, Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, New York, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, told his fellow bishops during their spring meeting in Indianapolis earlier this month.

The Springfield Diocesan delegation, led by Springfield Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski, includes representatives from five diocesan ministries: Catholic Communications; Latino Ministry; Youth and Adult Faith Formation; Catholic Charities and Ministry with the Deaf. Also attending the convocation will be Fathers Michael Wood and Matthew Alcombright.

Several members of the local delegation met June 22 to prepare for gathering.

The convocation, an invitation-only event, is mean to give the participants a better understanding of what it means to be a missionary disciple in today’s world through workshop presentations, keynote addresses and prayer.

“This is us, from every different facet of Catholic ministry, looking at everything together,” said Gina Czerwinski, director of youth ministry for the Diocese of Springfield. “I think you’re going to garner some different perspectives on how you should be going about your ministry.”

The participants will be the experts, is how Jonathan Reyes, one of the organizers, sees it.

In a mid-January presentation to U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ employees about the convocation, Reyes, executive director of the U.S. bishops Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development, said the event was about: “How do we carry on our mission in this trying time?”

He also said the event will be a sign of unity for the church because it will bring diverse groups together to discuss and share not only their challenges but more importantly, their ideas, resources and tools for moving forward.

“For the common good of the church we need to understand each other and work toward unity,” said Andres Lopez, director of the Office of Latino Ministry of the Diocese of Springfield.

Bishop Malone has also said the convocation will be an opportunity for church leaders to cross “church silos” as a sign of unity.

He said the convocation aims to be a “powerful moment of Catholic unity,” bringing Catholics together “who would otherwise never have the occasion to be in the same room together” under the leadership of the bishops to focus on the way forward in the faith.

Melissa Hurst, high school and confirmation coordinator at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Belchertown and a volunteer youth minister, said she was looking forward to attending the event.

“I am interested in learning other ways that people across the country are working together with others and with young people in particular,” said Hurst.

The bishops and the other organizers say they don’t see the event as a self-contained gathering but as a launch for the church at large, once participants return to their organizations and dioceses with newfound fervor and tools.

“This could be a very exciting first step on a long journey of the church re-visioning itself. Not a change so much of creed and doctrine, but a change of the way that we are in the world,” said Kathryn Buckley-Brawner, director of the Catholic Charities Agency for the Diocese of Springfield.

Material from Catholic News Service also was used in this report.