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July 20, 2017, Orlando, Florida – Sister Lorene Heck, OP, Chapter Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Dominican West Chapter, was one of 4,500 Catholic leaders invited to attend the July 1-4, 2017, Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America. Sister Lorene represented Region XV of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).

The U.S. Bishops convened the convocation in response to Pope Francis’ call in his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) “to embark on a new chapter of evangelization marked by the joy of the Gospel” and to form others as missionary disciples of Jesus Christ. The bishops invited key leaders from dioceses, apostolates, movements, and Catholic organizations such as the LCWR. 

“I was grateful for the opportunity to attend,” Sister Lorene said. “I became more aware of the numerous Catholic organizations and movements and gained an increased awareness of the wide range of viewpoints within the Church in the United States.”

Sister Lorene said key objectives of the convocation were to equip and re-energize leaders to share the Gospel as missionary disciples and to provide leaders with key insights from their participation in a strategic conversation about the U.S. Catholic Church’s current challenges and opportunities. The pope is calling Catholics to go beyond “mere administration” to a missionary conversation, she said.

The convocation considered four key questions:

  1. What is the nature of this current historical moment in the Church and in our nation?
  2. How do we respond to this moment as missionary disciples?
  3. Where are we called to go and to whom are we being sent?
  4. What will we do when we get there? How will we engage the mission?

The convocation helped participants to answer those questions during plenary sessions around the themes of unity, landscape and renewal, work and witness, and a Spirit of Mission. Some 22 breakout sessions helped participants to go deeper into exploring these themes, and panel discussions provided the opportunity for delegates to set the context and guide the conversation. Sister Lorene attended a gathering of LCWR delegates, as well as breakout sessions on International Solidarity, Living in the Margins in our Country and our World, and Missionary Disciples in Solidarity with the Suffering Church.

Sister Lorene said she was especially excited to note that the vast majority of delegates were lay leaders in the Church, “dedicated, committed disciples.” She believes the greatest challenge for the delegates is “to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by the joy of the Gospel – to become ever more, and to form others as missionary disciples of Jesus Christ.”

Submitted by Sister Lorene Heck, OP



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