By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
A delegate to the Vatican’s pre-synod gathering of young people. A Colombian-born professor actively involved in Hispanic ministry. A Detroit priest described as a popular speaker at pro-life and church events. All three are prepared to share the “Joy of the Gospel” at the Diocese of Davenport’s Vision 20/20 Convocation in June.
Vision 20/20 Steering Committee members vetted names of speakers who could inspire convocation participants toward a revitalization of faith and a renewal of grace in the spirit of Pentecost, and equip them to spread that joy to their parishes and beyond.
As a result of that effort, Katie Prejean-McGrady, the pre-synod delegate, accepted an invitation to talk about the current state of affairs regarding Catholic youths and young adults and how the church can better connect with them.
Professor Hosffman Ospino, associate professor of Hispanic Ministry and Religious Education at Boston College, accepted an invitation to talk about missionary discipleship and evangelization.
And Father John Riccardo, the Detroit priest with an Ave Maria Radio program titled “Christ is the Answer,” accepted an invitation to speak about evangelization in general.
Convocation organizers hope that through these speakers and a variety of workshops, Catholics will become more comfortable with the term “evangelization” and how they can embrace its practice in their daily lives.
“Our theme is the Joy of the Gospel and the New Evangelization,” said Deacon Joe Dvorak, who serves on the Vision 20/20 program and scheduling committee.
The three general session speakers are people “who do a lot of presentations on evangelization and the Joy of the Gospel and how to reach out to those on the margins, on the peripheries, to those not attending church.
“Fr. Riccardo is doing a lot of speaking on evangelization in general. Katie will come with a youth orientation. Hosffman Ospino will also speak on evangelization in general and give specific thoughts on how to reach out to Hispanics and other minorities,” said Deacon Dvorak, parish life coordinator for Immaculate Conception Parish in Colfax. “We thought the three provide a nice balance.”
Julia Jones, youth minister for St. Ann Parish in Long Grove, heard Prejean-McGrady speak at Notre Dame Vision this past summer and thought she would be a terrific speaker for Vision 20/20. She demonstrated passion for her faith and youth ministry and was excited about sharing her experience at the pre-synod gathering with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Jones said. “That’s exactly what we need to hear in our diocese.”
Youths need a good foundation in faith and to be empowered in their faith, Jones said. Prejean- McGrady “explains why and what the Catholic faith has to offer and why it’s so important to keep young people engaged … She’ll give us a picture of the state of Catholic youth and from there, it’s up to us what we want to do with that.”
In addition, “we’re looking for a variety of workshops that will give parishes the tools they can use and take back to their parishes to start evangelizing and reaching out,” Deacon Dvorak said. Among the potential topics: suicide and addiction, why people are leaving the church and practical ways to reach out to them. “Most of the workshops will be done by local talent in our diocese and surrounding dioceses.”
An estimated 800 people, chosen as representatives of their parishes, will attend the convocation at St. Ambrose University in Davenport from June 6-8. In addition to general sessions and workshops, attendees will have an opportunity for prayer and to attend Mass. “There will be opportunities for socializing and relaxing along with opportunities to learn,” Deacon Dvorak said.
“I think it’s going to be a wonderful experience and I think it’s innovative for the bishop to do this,” Deacon Dvorak said. “We have to remember to let go and let the Holy Spirit lead us — and it will be good.”