MEET THE RADICALS

Teak Phillips | teakphillips@archstl.org
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Catholic Convocation delegates reflect on the call to missionary discipleship 

In "Evangelii Gaudium," Pope Francis reminds the Church that "Christ sent His followers to preach the Gospel in every time and place, so that faith in Him might spread to every corner of the earth. Further, Pope Francis called upon us to reach all of the peripheries in need of the light of the Gospel.

This commission of missionary discipleship was the primary focus of the Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America, which was attended by Archbishop Robert. J. Carlson and 19 delegates of the archdiocese.

The delegates' commission now is to lead the archdiocese on a renewed journey of missionary discipleship, to assist parishes in evangelization and hospitality in order to reach the peripheries of our community — whatever those peripheries may be.

At the convocation, local leaders heard a call to radical missionary discipleship. Here are their reflections:

Archbishop Carlson

As Pope Francis said, we have a momentous opportunity "to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by the joy of the Gospel" and to form others as missionary disciples.

I really believe that whatever time God and the Holy Father give me to remain in St. Louis, I want this to be my focus. I'd like to leave the archdiocese more alive and richer and deeper in faith, which I think will truly affect everything that we do or can be. The key is to be more, not do more.

Bishop Mark S. Rivituso

The quality of the witness that we're called to give — we need to make sure people know that we are present to them, that we're available to them, that we want to present Christ to them and, as they encounter us, their lives are enriched and that they experience the compassion of Jesus.

Jerry Amsler

I was touched about being bold. The convocation was an amazing spiritual experience for me personally and the overall event was extraordinary. Even though we have challenges in front of us, Pope Francis has provided a great road map for us to follow, so it is now in our hands "to be bold and creative in our mission" and "go forth and make disciples." It inspired and convinced us that the time is right for a transformation shift.

Deacon Chris Ast

Our parish(es) should be life-long schools of discipleship. We need to be joyful and joy filled people who do not hesitate to share the joy we experience ourselves in the Gospel message. Change does not threaten our existence, it grows it and makes us more vibrant. It's all about conversion.

Ray Boshara

A few of my favorite quotes from the convocation are: "The call to mercy is disruptive." "We need more street in the Church, and more Church in the street." "Jesus is already at the peripheries; are you there with Him?" "Be bold in chastity and charity, and grace will be present." "The slow, silent deaths from poverty and lack of education may not lead to field hospitals, but perhaps they should."

Julie Bostick

We received so many special graces through the grace of the Holy Spirit: not just from the sacraments but also from the more than 3,000 people who attended, from the artwork, from the speakers, from the Scripture and especially from the witness.

At the closing Mass, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo reminded us in his homily of the story of the multiplication of the loaves and the fish. When the apostles whined they didn't have enough for the crowd, Jesus said,"Then give me what you have." Then He worked a miracle. Jesus says the same thing to us as well, "then give me what you have." That was really powerful.

Msgr. John "Jack" Costello

In St. Louis, we're pretty challenged by thinking out of the box. It's not our background.

Loved my morning break-out (who is in the peripheries in the parish): We need to evangelize the young families at baptism when "the cement is wet." Evangelize before the cement hardens. Get to young families at baptism!

Talk about beautiful; share beautiful traditions of the Church, like the Mass. Have an instructional Mass with explanations, history and meaning — especially the Eucharistic Prayer. When folks learn about it, they are blown away. It really helps dispel being a passive participant.

Michael Horn

Outstanding conference, the best I've been to. Go to the peripheries and don't create more of them. Foster personal holiness daily and witness constantly to love and mercy with all. Be authentic. Make every Catholic place a hospitable place — something as simple as keeping the doors of our churches open during the day.

We have this treasure of being Catholics, but it's like we're trying to keep it (hidden). Share it and let it out. We have a 2,000-year tradition. Share it.

Marie Kenyon

Favorite quote: "Are we a Church looking for converts or heretics?" It's time for Respect Life and Peace & Justice to unite in common mission.

Nick Lee

The message of the weekend was clear: Now is the time to present the joy-filled message of Jesus' life, death and resurrection to a nation gone numb. And this mission isn't simply to re-teach the poorly catechized. Since the beginning of Francis' pontificate, the image of the Catholic Church has been viewed in a whole new light. Our pope's joy-filled exuberance and commitment to 'mercy-ing' those on the margins has reverberated through every home, Church and television screen. I believe the convocation helped re-light the flame of joy in our American Church, and I'm excited to see the fruits of Pope Francis' vision for a joy-filled Church of missionary disciples.

Brian Miller

The convocation is energizing for the Church in the U.S. and our archdiocese because it is re-energizing us and reminding us of our common mission — to evangelize and share the Gospel with urgency. We're going to live it in daily life in slightly different ways, but being unified behind the idea of missionary discipleship is where Pope Francis is calling our Church right now. It's great to see so many participants willing to respond with a resounding "yes."

Kurt Nelson

The whole community needs to recognize the responsibility to make disciples. The entire parish community is called to make disciples. That is not just one person's job. Everything we do needs to be rooted in prayer. Parents need catechesis and accompaniment, too. What we have to share is not the message of the Church. It is a message through the Church, it is God's message and plan for us.

Karen Nolkemper

What an exciting opportunity to encounter and interact with a diverse group of Catholics who are talented, intelligent, friendly, and on fire for the faith. Truly inspiring.

The Church should serve as a home or a "family of families" (to quote the bishop this morning) — extending a warm welcome to all who are isolated in the peripheries.

We are beloved sons and daughters of God. Don't be afraid to be countercultural. Jesus was countercultural.

You don't have to have the perfect words to be an effective missionary disciple or spirit-filled evangelizer. You just need a smile, a compassionate heart, and the courageous to share what Jesus has done for you.

Javier Orozco

I'm really fired up and affirmed. This has been really powerful on a personal and professional note for me. One of the things this has done for me is really reveal how much we have, not only us as a team but who we are a part of. I'm leaving much more confident that we have everything we need.

We must find common vision, ground and language to reconnect with the powerful work of the Spirit and our local realities. We are not alone. We walk together in mutual accompaniment. Let us share the joy and let us be ever grateful.

Teak Phillips

One thing that has stuck with me is Carl Anderson's quote "perhaps we ourselves are the first periphery." Maybe we build a lot of peripheries because of the way we might judge people or not being really welcoming to people or even just how we might identify the needs of a group. Not only must we go into the peripheries, we must work to eliminate them.

Theresa Ruzicka

Give everything to Him and He will transform you. Live the message in word and deed. The poor open our eyes to what is really important. It is not enough to be philanthropist (give money), you need to touch those you are helping. Change will come with a change in our hearts.

Pray for the Spirit's lead! We need to accompany each other, be present, listen and understand. Mission and outreach should be first in our budget. Our Circle of Influence starts with our personal interior peace and holiness. Go forth, we are all children of God!

Lynn Squires

Our marching orders were clear: Go forth and authentically proclaim the word of the Lord with sincere Joy. With this, we will be a shining example of God's goodness and others will desire to be part of the glory After all, nobody likes a sourpuss.

Nancy Werner

I'm excited by the capacity to give — singular capacity to persevere in extreme circumstances — and an irreplaceable role for human relationships.

Elizabeth Westhoff

We should not be maintaining decline. Our parishes have to be on their A games. Every. Time. At Mass we're participating in the greatest miracle in history — act like it! Let's make "Christmas and Easter Catholics" feel welcomed, from the pulpit, and invite them to return the next Sunday.

Carolyn Yandell

Radical! That word has been penetrating and resonating. Black Catholics are not a "problem to be solved," we bring our gifts to be freely offered and shared. As co-workers in the vineyard we are called at baptism.

We go forth but we do not go alone, because of our spiritual DNA the guidance of the Holy Spirit accompanies us. When we have tasted the goodness of the Lord we want everyone to know the same goodness. Then we shall not want. 

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