Editor’s Note: Many delegates from the Diocese of Trenton who attended the Convocation of Catholic Leaders July 1-4 in Orlando, Fla., took time to write heartfelt reflections upon their return home. Following, Josue Arriola, diocesan director of Evangelization and Family Life, shares his thoughts.
By Josue Arriola
Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl urged all of us participating at the “Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of The Gospel in America” to take a look at each other and realize that we all, as lay leaders in the Church, are responsible for spreading the Gospel message. This responsibility, it is not only for a few baptized people it is for all, and he added, “We shouldn’t waste any more time.”
The cardinal stressed the sense of urgency of evangelizing. “Urgency” is a key word that hit me hard; many people are moving away from God. As Christian, we can’t be passive and see all these people pass in front of us running away from God and not have a sense of urgency to do something about it, a sense of compassion for them.
Every person needs to hear that someone loves them unconditional, and this is the job of evangelization. Sister Miriam, a sister of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, said, “I’m sitting here today because somebody loved me in my brokenness.” She also stressed the need to offer a “continual invitation” to those around us who might be searching for God. How many sisters Miriam we can have if we can start today sharing God’s love to those around us.
Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Conn., said, “If you want to go out in the world, (yes) start by going in (now),” and added Cardinal Donald’s words, “We shouldn’t waste any more time.”
“Urgency” was the word that keeps pounding into my heart.
The conference had many moments of encounter with Jesus Christ, starting with the liturgy, the exposition of the Blessed Sacraments, confessions, music, presentations and the smiles and joy of thousands of Church leaders – men and women religious, bishops and lay people. But this encounter with Jesus comes with a responsibility, or as Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles said, it comes with a requirement: “Being Christian is more than accepting Jesus as Savior but requires the faithful to go to the peripheries of society where people are struggling materially and spiritually ... Jesus calls us to follow him. That is an action, a decision that implies a way of life.”
From July 1-4, 2017, the main floor of the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Orlando was transformed into a huge parish hall with places for worship, prayer and discussion, during the convocation. This huge parish hall held more than 3,500 leaders who heard the message of the “Urgency” to evangelize.
Two thousand years ago in the upper room in Jerusalem, 12 leaders heard the same message, and those 12 changed the world. Imagine what 3,500 could do. Let’s pray that one day history will look back at this convocation as the moment that the “Urgency” to evangelize became the internal mission of all believers.