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ORLANDO, Fla. (CNS) -- Theirs was a monumental responsibility: shepherding lay leaders, cardinals, archbishops, bishops, religious, deacons, musicians, event staff and a legion of volunteers at the historic "Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America" July 1--4 in Orlando.
"This convocation is a journey, and there will be three of us here to guide you through the next four days," said Bishop Edward J. Burns of Dallas, one of the event's emcees.
The consistent presence -- on stage and off -- of Bishop Burns, along with emcee Julianne Stanz, director of new evangelization for the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin, and moderator Gloria Purvis, co-host of "Morning Glory" on EWTN Radio, kept the entire program flowing smoothly despite any behind-the-scenes hiccups.
Sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the convocation brought together more than 3,100 lay and religious leaders from 160 dioceses and 185 national organizations. They gathered to explore the current challenges and strengths of the church and its evangelization efforts.
Bishop John G. Noonan of Orlando, host of the convocation, joked that when New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, an event chairman, "called me five years ago to tell me he'd like to come to Orlando in July -- he didn't tell me how many he had invited!"
"Welcome as we celebrate the joy of the Gospel!" Bishop Noonan told the delegates.