Bishop asks for prayers for the convocation

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
A historic moment will take place for the Catholic Church in the United States from July 1-4, 2017, in Orlando, Florida. The bishops of our country, along with chosen delegations from their respective dioceses, as well as representatives from various ministries in the United States, will gather for days of prayer, reflection and discussion about the most fundamental question of our day: How do we live the Gospel of Jesus Christ in this 21st century with a dynamism and vitality that evangelizes current and future generations? This historic moment is entitled, “Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America.”
I am very excited to participate in this historic moment for the church in our country and to bring with me a chosen delegation that represents the various demographics of our diocesan life. There will be a total of 16 in our delegation. I invite you to pray for us as we enter into this important moment so that the Holy Spirit will empower us to bring back to you, our people, a sense of where to go from here and how best to embrace this challenge, marked out for us by Pope Francis in his first Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, The Joy of the Gospel.
I believe that divine providence has brought us and the entire church to this moment of critical reflection and decision. It is providential that I am now completing my third year as your bishop and have spent these first three years discovering the dynamic life of our diocesan family, the blessings, the challenges and the hopes and dreams. With this convocation and the participation of our delegation, I hope to be able to set forth a process in the next coming months to invite your input and dialogue in a diocesan-wide conversation about our future and how best to take up the challenge of moving from a maintenance mode of diocesan life to a dynamic mission driven focus.
To that end, beginning in late summer and going through the months until the end of the calendar year, I will be conducting diocesan listening sessions in various parts of our diocese to which you will be invited to come and share your thoughts with me. These sessions and the logistics of your participation in them will be forthcoming in future editions of the Catholic Advance. I will also ask our pastors to share this information in their parish bulletins so as to receive the widest possible response. I hope to also receive input in writing or online for the convenience of our people.
The listening sessions will be simple in nature, inviting table discussion on three questions:
• As a diocese, what are we doing well?
• What could we have done or be doing better?
• What should be our pastoral priorities for the next five years?
The responses to these questions will be shared with various leadership groups, including my own Bishop’s Leadership Team, the Presbyteral Council, the diocesan Curia, and what I hope to establish in the very near future, a Diocesan Pastoral Council. Eventually, I hope to be able to articulate a pastoral vision for the next five years with the various councils and teams assisting me going forward in keeping the vision alive and advising me in its implementation.
This is indeed a very exciting and challenging time to live our Catholic faith, but it is our time to step up to the challenges and offer the church an authentic and dynamic witness. As I have said to numerous groups over the past year, there is much for which to be grateful here, so many blessings, but I do not want that to be a temptation to coast into the years ahead.
Instead, I feel inspired to help us move from well-intentioned maintenance to an evangelical mission centered diocese. Will you join me in this effort? I need you and everyone to come to the table for our reflection and direction. God bless you for your time in reading this; please pray for me, our delegates to the convocation, and for all in our diocese as we hear the call to become missionary disciples of Jesus Christ.
+ Bishop Carl A. Kemme