WASHINGTON (September 26, 2002) -- The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Evangelization and Secretariat for Evangelization gathered with 80 members of the U.S. Commission on Catholic Evangelization and Diocesan Directors of Evangelization for the second biennial Convocation on Evangelization.
The group noted the racial, ethnic and generational diversity among U.S. Catholics and strategies needed to reach the different groups.
The five day gathering, September 13-17, at San Damiano Retreat Center in Danville, California, brought together bishops, priests, deacons and laity to review the implementation of Go and Make Disciples: A National Plan and Strategy for Catholic Evangelization promulgated in 1992, 10 years ago this year.
The diocesan directors met with the current Bishops' Committee on Evangelization and past committee chairs to review the development of Go and Make Disciples and the experience of the dioceses. Former chairmen, Archbishop Francis Hurley, retired archbishop of Anchorage, and Archbishop Michael Sheehan of Santa Fe, New Mexico, along with Bishop William Houck of Jackson, Mississippi and current chairman, Bishop Michael Warfel of Juneau, Alaska, shared their own experience and reflections on evangelization in the United States. Diocesan reports noted the success of the Archdiocese of Louisville's Hospitality Program, the creation of a new department in the Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon, and outreach to Hispanics in Washington. Discussion and reflection focused on outreach to the entire Catholic community – active Catholics and inactive Catholics. Case studies from Chicago, Ogdensburg, N.Y., Philadelphia, Raleigh, N.C., and Santa Fe showed best practices of outreach to these diverse groups.
Special attention was given to the need to recognize the cultural diversity of the nation and its faith communities. Participants and representatives from the Hispanic, Black, Chinese, Vietnamese and Native American Catholic communities offered insights on the needs of their respective communities. Attendees also broadened the discussion to include generational differences and concerns.
Bishop Warfel, current chair of the Bishops' Committee congratulated the U.S. Commission and Diocesan Directors for their enthusiasm and energy.
"You bring the Spirit and passion to your local churches that infect the community with renewed zeal to welcome and reach out to all people with the gospel," Bishop Warfel said.
Paulist Father John Hurley, Executive Director of the U.S. Bishops' Secretariat for Evangelization, and general coordinator for the convocation, noted the energy for evangelization efforts.
"Great initiatives have taken place over these past ten years since the bishops issued their national plan and strategy for Catholic evangelization in the United States. The enthusiasm and zeal for the Gospel experienced at the convocation is necessary in these challenging times among God's people," Father Hurley said.
The Bishops' Committee on Evangelization and the U.S. Commission closed the meeting with a commissioning service and agreed to gather in Portland, Oregon in July 2003, for the North American Institute on Catholic Evangelization, which will gather together Catholic leaders in a variety of ministries from all over North America.