ORLANDO, Fla. — The Diocese of Green Bay sent 11 young adult delegates to “The Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America” July 1-4. After listening to various presentations and discussions about the state of the Catholic Church in the United States, the delegates said they were filled with inspiration and ideas for the future.
Julianne Stanz, director of new evangelization for the Diocese of Green Bay, was an emcee for the event, serving with Bishop Edward Burns, the bishop of Dallas, and Gloria Purvis from EWTN. “The Convocation reminded me once again how important it is to be present to people and to walk with them on their journey,” she wrote in an email to The Compass.
“Archbishop Christoph Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States, closed out the convocation with a quote that I had shared onstage about my son, Ian,” Stanz wrote. “As we were going up to receive Communion one Sunday, Ian shouted out, ‘Come on everyone, let’s get moving for Jesus!’ Archbishop Pierre implored and encouraged us to ‘Get moving for Jesus.’ It was a moment that brought tears to my eyes!”
“The Convocation of Catholic Leaders was a truly amazing experience,” Sarah Bradford, communications coordinator for the Diocese of Green Bay, wrote in an email to The Compass. “We heard from high-caliber speakers about missionary discipleship, connected with talented individuals from around the country and grew closer together as a delegation.
“Looking at the current landscape of Catholicism in the U.S., we must declare ourselves in a permanent state of mission,” she wrote. “This means being able to look forward and build bridges to those who are on the peripheries, whether those are visible geographically or more hidden sociologically.”
Bradford’s biggest takeaway was the advice to invite Jesus into everything. “In whatever we do, Jesus needs to be a part of the whole conversation,” she wrote. “If we are to be living signs of Christ’s love in the world, we need to be a church that invites and reaches out to others with boldness and hope.”
For Maggie Melchior, the new evangelization and faith formation coordinator at St. Paul Parish in Combined Locks, the diversity and turnout at the convention were encouraging. “The sheer size of convocation — nearly 3,500 leaders gathered from all over the U.S. — served as a reminder that this renewed focus on missionary discipleship is not just about one parish or diocese, but happening all over the country and the global church,” she wrote in an email to The Compass.
As a result of her experience, she now plans on building “a much more intentional and personal accompaniment of the catechists and volunteers for whom I am responsible and with whom I serve most often.
“In my personal prayer, I will be asking Jesus to reveal those hidden peripheries to me so I can know where and how the Holy Spirit wants me to reach them,” she added.
The convocation taught Maikue Vang, a small group leader and member of St. Bernard Parish in Appleton, to be bold in her faith.
“The main takeaway for me is to be bold in how I am going out to evangelize others and be bold in my discipleship journey,” Vang said in an email. “It doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does take courage to be bold like that. Sometimes being bold means being different and different isn’t always accepted.”
She mentioned various ways of “being bold,” ranging from street evangelization to using social media. “I realize that in this day and age, with all the technological advances and the power of social media at our fingertips, we could be bold even behind a screen,” she wrote. “All the young adults could tap into this kind of boldness. It could be something as simple as making an impacting Facebook post about your faith or perhaps sharing why you love your church community.”