I didn’t know what to expect. From the very first session it was clear that this was no ordinary conference gathering. This was an event that would have the potential to transform the Church from within so it can carry out its mission of being more effective in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ as envisioned by Pope Francis. 

Despite the tough conversations on the challenges facing not just the Church, but the human family throughout the world, it was evident that the Holy Spirit was present in the panel discussions, breakout sessions and most especially in the liturgical prayer of the gathered community. I emphatically applaud the efforts of our U.S. bishops in providing an avenue for leaders working in the arenas of human imperfection to not only inspire us with the Gospel message, but to listen to the realities of the suffering experienced by the people we encounter every day in our parishes, schools, ministries and other peripheries.  

I learned that most of the suffering experienced in our world is a result of people feeling alone. The human story is our sole sense of connectivity. It is our human story that transcends the walls erected by our differences. The reality of God entering our human story is the Gospel which transcends all ideologies. The joy of the Gospel is simply recognizing that God walks with us, speaks to us, breathes with us, works with us daily, through the person of Jesus Christ, made present in the sacraments, in his Word, and in the community of the Church.  

Jesus Christ is the remedy for our loneliness, and we must enthusiastically proclaim this message as baptized members of his body. I was extremely humbled and honored to have been invited to be part of the delegation with our leaders in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and am inspired to more boldly proclaim the joy of the Gospel in my own family, church and school community. 

— Erick Rubalcava, principal of St. Pius X-St. Matthias Academy in Downey

This past weekend I was blessed to attend the Convocation of Catholic Leaders in Orlando. It was nothing short of amazing to be there with thousands of other leaders and 150 of our incredible bishops. Our purpose in being there was to discuss Pope Francis’ “The Joy of the Gospel” and what it means in America! 

Here are three of the biggest takeaways:

1. The joy of the Gospel is so real! I saw it in the speakers and the people I met who were all on fire for Christ and are amazing witnesses to the joy that comes from knowing him. We must create opportunities for others to experience that joy by walking with them toward Christ and his love!

2. We must all be missionary disciples. To be a missionary is no longer a job only for those who leave their homes and travel overseas. We also cannot content ourselves to be disciples who are not on mission. Pope Francis said we must be “permanently in a state of mission.” Again and again the speakers at this convocation reminded us that it is not just those who work in parishes or schools or in the diocese, but every one of us is called to be a missionary disciple. God is waiting for us to answer the calling! How do we become missionary disciples? It starts with things such as nourishing our own faith life with daily prayer without distractions, sitting down to eat dinner as a family, seeing the face of Christ in each person we encounter or extending an invitation to someone to do service or go to Mass with you.

3. It was totally awesome to be rocking out to Matt Maher alongside many of the bishops who joined in for the night of praise and worship.

— Lisa Ebiner Gavit, teacher at St. Mark School in Venice