Countdown to Vision 20/20 Convocation: preparing the delegates

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Michelle Montgomery, youth minister at St. Thomas More Parish in Coralville, evangelizes to youth at an event in Coral Ridge Mall in Coralville.

By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger

DAVENPORT — Some 450 delegates from parishes, religious communities, schools and college campus ministries are gathering June 6-8 for the Vision 20/20 Convocation to prayerfully explore practical strategies for revitalization of the Catholic Church in southeast Iowa.

The delegates have been chosen based on their desire to reflect on how the church can more effectively fulfill its mission to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to the world.

Bishop Thomas Zinkula, who initiated Vision 20/20 said, “We know that we need to do something to foster growth in our communities of faith. We know that lay people need to be actively involved in attracting others to the church and in accompanying them on their journey of faith. This convocation is one of many steps we are taking to address these challenges together.”

Delegates will participate in general sessions led by national speakers Mike Patin, examining Catholics’ vision through the “bifocal” lens of missionary discipleship; Katie Prejean McGrady, sharing that Christ is alive through relationships; and Hosffman Ospino, speaking on evangelizing discipleship in a time of change.

Break-out sessions with a host of speakers will cover topics pertaining to marriage, families, youths and young adults, teens, sexuality and sexual identity, secularism, hospitality and more.

Speakers will serve as inspirers, motivators and facilitators of conversation who can accompany and guide the delegates who know the local reality of the church in their parishes, religious communities, schools or college campus ministries. The delegates will take the message of missionary discipleship back home, to collaborate with their fellow parishioners, religious community members and students on building the body of Christ and impacting the culture and society nationwide.

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Vision 20/20 objectives

The Steering Committee of Vision 20/20 has identified these objectives for the convocation:

• Celebrate our unity in the joy of the Gospel.
• Reflect on the call to be “Spirit-filled evangelizers.”
• Look to the peripheries of our communities.
• Read the signs of the times in our Diocese of Davenport.
• Explore practical strategies for the future.
• Begin to chart out concrete plans for taking the next steps.
• Pray for the grace to move forward.

Among the delegates is Elizabeth Starr, majoring in journalism and mass communications at the University of Iowa. She also is a communications fellow with the Newman Catholic Student Center on campus. Her home parish is Our Lady of Lourdes in Bettendorf.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how the convocation will spark new excitement in the diocese. I think it is very easy to fall into routine, especially for those who were raised Catholic or have been in the church for many years. I’m happy that our diocese is taking steps to shake things up and spread enthusiasm for the faith.”

She’s “hoping to find new insights into evangelization, especially on how to connect with other college students in an authentic way. I also want to find new ways to strengthen my relationship with God and my prayer life, because I think that is an important factor in evangelization. Making a genuine attempt to know Christ is essential before we can hope to follow him. Before the apostles were sent out, they first spent years building a relationship with Christ and learning his teachings, and we must also take time to do the same. I hope to take away new ideas on how to grow closer to God and help others do so in order to build community and the church.”

Delegate Joe Sinclair is a member of St. Patrick Parish in Georgetown who farms and works at a fertilizer store. A strong believer in prayer, he said he is curious about and looking forward to the convocation. “Hopefully we’ll get some inspiration to bring back to the communities to get some of these fallen-away parishioners back in the pews.”

Tom Touney, a parishioner at St. John Vianney Parish in Bettendorf, will be attending the convocation with his wife, Jan. “My foremost thought in attending is that my ears and heart be open to what the Holy Spirit is saying to me and secondly, not to be afraid to follow the path of where he is leading me,” Tom said. “I can humbly say that my faith has given me much joy in my life. Upon leaving the convocation, my hope would be that the Holy Spirit will lead me to the places where I can share that joy.” He is particularly drawn to two of the workshop topics: “How to Evangelize the Churched” and “Reaching Out to the Nones —Those Who Have Left the Church.”


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