By Father Steven D. Henriksen, Pastor of Ascension Church
Reaching out to the peripheries.
Each of these four notions is a source for our reflection as well as for action. Over the 4th of July holiday weekend, I was privileged to participate as one of 14 delegates from the Archdiocese of Louisville at the Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America.
The Convocation featured a number of events highlighting the opportunities as well as the challenges in being and becoming missionary disciples. From traditional devotions to sessions concerned with outreach to the many absent from the Eucharistic table, the Convocation and its participants transcended the “left/right” political divide that often dominates media reporting of our Church.
The nearly 3,500 delegates engaged the issues that confront our Church. A definitive answer to addressing disconnect between those who affiliate with the Church and their in-pew participation was not achieved. Nor was a perfect solution offered for the opportunities and challenges that are present for a U.S. Church undergoing seismic demographic and social changes.
Yet, each as well as many others were encountered during the Convocation. Encountering the teachings of the Church as it is lived in parishes was an essential theme of the Convocation. The central importance of encountering Our Lord – in developing a personal relationship with the living Christ – remains the key opportunity for all disciples.
Humble and informed dialogue also was featured during the Convocation. In break-out sessions ranging from ministry to those on the periphery to the many ways of living the Gospel allowed participants to meet with fellow believers throughout the country in often animated conversations surrounding topics of importance to our Church.
Underlying many of these discussions was a recognition of the need for the Church to connect with others. While this need seems like common sense, it is too often neglected in faith communities struggling to simply serve the existing desires of its parishioners. The peripheries are not “outside of our community,” however, but lie well within the spiritual boundaries of every parish. The peripheries are not “others” but all of us journeying toward salvation.
As a follow up to the Convocation, the Louisville delegation will gather for subsequent discussions. More importantly, under the guidance of the Archbishop, we are percolating upon the enormous spiritual gift that the Convocation was to all.
Discipleship is something that all believers are called to undertake. Follow me, Jesus often said in Scripture. May each of us in this local Church tend to that call of Our Lord and be renewed by the Holy Spirit!