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ORLANDO, Fla. (CNS) -- Catholic leaders attending the opening Mass of the "Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of The Gospel in America" were urged to reflect joy -- a sign of God's presence -- and not exclusively focus on the world's problems.
"A big part of the reason behind this promising convocation, folks, is that we, your pastors, believe with Pope Francis, that a renewal of joy is essential for a deepening of Catholic vitality and confidence today," said New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, homilist at the July 1 Mass.
The hotel ballroom in Orlando was transformed into a spacious church for the congregation of about 3,500 delegates -- invited from dioceses around the country -- who were urged to view their time at the four-day convocation as a journey, not just a conference, by Dallas Bishop Edward J. Burns in remarks before Mass.
The Mass was concelebrated by 150 bishops. Readings were in Spanish and English and prayers of the faithful were delivered in several languages. A gospel choir from St. Peter Claver Parish in Tampa, Florida, led the delegates in song.
Cardinal Dolan emphasized that during the gatheringpeople would come to know each other better and also get to know Jesus more, which would be make them effective and joyful in their mission of spreading the Gospel message.
He said this renewal of joy was especially needed at this moment in the church.