Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, who is vice president of USCCB, distribute Communion during the closing Mass July 4 at the "Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America" in Orlando, Fla. Leaders from dioceses and various Catholic organizations gathered for the July 1-4 convocation. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)
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ORLANDO, Fla. (CNS) -- For some it was about keeping young people in the church. Others wanted to hear about diocesan ministries in another locale and perhaps bring an idea home. A few more were glad they could be heard by a bishop or two.
Whatever their reason to travel to hot, humid Florida for four days in the middle of summer, the 3,500 delegates to the "Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America" headed home July 4 with renewed energy to set a new course for the U.S. Catholic Church.
The convocation, years in planning, was the first time in a century that the bishops convened church leaders -- clergy, religious, seminarians, parish volunteers and professional staff among them -- to respond to social and spiritual quandaries that have left millions of people drifting on the margins of society.
Clergy -- more than 155 prelates and 300 priests -- recognize that the church must respond to those quandaries. While cardinals, archbishops and bishops played leading roles throughout the convocation, they also were on hand to listen. They joined breakout sessions; some did not speak at all. During the final gatherings of diocesan delegations and affiliated groups July 4, bishops could be seen quietly watching and taking notes as the conversations on practical steps to undertake back home unfolded.