Convocation of Parish Leaders
While evangelization has always been at the heart of the life and mission of the
Church, there has been an increasing focus on and renewed sense of urgency surrounding
it over the past fifty years. A brief glance at the statistics is enough to
realize our culture is changing. Statistics aside, we all have parishioners
whose friends or family members have either left or gradually drifted away from
the practice of the Catholic Faith. However, there is also a growing hope and
renewed evangelical focus, which gained momentum with Pope St. John Paul II in
the New Evangelization and has continued through the pontificates of Pope
Benedict XVI and Pope Francis. The
Holy Father has called all in the Church to a “missionary conversion” and to be
a Church which is “permanently in a state of mission” (EG 25).
Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America
Last summer the United States Bishops along with Catholic leaders from around the country, gathered in a historic meeting called the Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America. The bishops and their delegates reflected on key points of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation on evangelization, Evangelii Gaudium. Speakers delved into the social and religious ‘landscape’ of our nation. Breakout sessions highlighted the peripheries and how to identify and reach them. Finally, each delegation had the opportunity to discuss and to ask the question, ‘What could missionary discipleship look like within our parishes and diocese?”
Convocation of Parish Leaders
In order to more fully explore that question, the Dioceses of Crookston and Fargo are co-hosting a similar event at the regional level called the Convocation of Parish Leaders on November 30-December 1, 2018, in Fargo at the Avalon Events Center. Bishops Folda and Hoeppner are inviting pastors and their delegates to delve into the Church’s teachings on evangelization, missionary discipleship, and how to be a mission-oriented parish that seeks the lost and strives to be Jesus’ mercy and love in a world marred by wounds. This event will equip participants in basic evangelization skills and will provide networking opportunities, as well as times of prayer and the celebration of Mass. Overall, the convocation will begin to equip attendees to go forth and engage their communities with the hope and joy of the Gospel.
What do we hope to accomplish through the Convocation for Parish Leaders?
The convocation will offer parish leaders the opportunity to reflect on key questions and begin to discuss what a culture of missionary discipleship could look like in their parishes and the steps to take to bring it to fruition. The convocation is not an end in itself; it is a tool to build off for continued discussions and planning among parish leadership.
Please see pages 2-3 of the Convocation of Parish Leaders Handout (PDF) for more information on the aim and process.
|Friday, November 30 (Feast of St. Andrew)
||Saturday, December 1
of Parish Meetings
||Keynote 1: Fr. Frank Donio, S.A.C., Catholic Apostolate Center
||Lunch (boxed lunch for those who need to leave early)
||Deanery / Regional Meeting
||Summary and Closing Prayer
||Keynote 2: Msgr. Thomas Richter, Diocese of Bismarck
||Evening of Prayer & Praise
Page 4 of the Convocation of Parish Leaders Handout (PDF) has a printable version of the schedule.
Fr. Frank S. Donio, S.A.C., D.Min.
Fr. Frank S. Donio, S.A.C. is Director of the Catholic
Apostolate Center and Provincial Rector of the Immaculate Conception Province
of the Society of the Catholic Apostolate (Pallottine Fathers and Brothers). Fr.
Frank is originally from Hammonton, New Jersey and made his first consecration
as a Pallottine in 1986 and was ordained a priest in 1994.
Fr. Frank is a Consultant to the Committee on Evangelization
and Catechesis of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. He also
collaborated with the Conference on the development of Living as Missionary
Disciples: A Resource for Evangelization. Fr. Frank has served as Consultant to
the Archdiocese of Baltimore for pastoral planning and assisted in the
development of their Be Missionary Disciples planning process.
Fr. Frank is an Adjunct Professor at St. Joseph’s College of
Maine in the online Theology program and at Fordham University in the Graduate
School of Religion and Religious Education. He is also a Lecturer in the undergraduate
Theology program in the School of Theology and Religious Studies at The
Catholic University of America. He teaches in the areas of Catholic mission,
pastoral ministry, spirituality, ecclesiology, and Church management and
He holds a Doctor of Ministry in Adult Spiritual Formation
from The Catholic University of America (CUA), as well as a Bachelor of Arts in
History and a Master of Arts in Church History from CUA. He also holds a Master
of Divinity from Washington Theological Union and a Master of Science in Church
Management from Villanova University School of Business.
Msgr. Thomas J. Richter
Monsignor Thomas J. Richter is a priest of the Diocese of Bismarck has been appointed as pastor of
Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Dickinson, North Dakota.
Monsignor Richter’s roots are in rural North Dakota. His
values and character formed in his upbringing on a dairy farm near Bismarck. He
holds a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from North Dakota State
University and studied philosophy at Cardinal Muench Seminary in Fargo.He received his theological seminary
formation at North American College and the Pontifical University of St. Thomas
Aquinas, both in Rome. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Bismarck on
June 13, 1996. For the first six years of his priesthood, he served as
Parochial Vicar, high school religion teacher and Pastor of several parishes.
From 2002 to 2012, he served as Director of Vocations and Vicar for Deacons for
the Diocese of Bismarck. In July of 2012, Monsignor Richter was named Rector of
the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Bismarck. It was also in 2012 that Pope
Benedict honored him with the title of Monsignor.
In February 2016 Monsignor Richter was given a special
assignment from Rome, commissioned by Pope Francis as a Missionary of
Mercy—along with priests all over the world—to preach and offer the Sacrament
of Reconciliation to those desiring the beautiful mercy of God.
Outside of the diocese, he has served on the Executive Board
of the National Conference of Diocesan Vocations Directors and as a faculty
member and spiritual director of the Institute for Priestly Formation. He is
the author of two discernment booklets, “Is Jesus Calling You to be a Catholic
Priest” and “Lend Your Own Voice to Christ.” He also has authored a booklet for
Catholic lay people entitled “Integrated Evangelization: How to Facilitate the
Encounter with Christ.” For a great majority of his years as a priest, Monsignor
Richter has been directly involved in priestly formation, and when not acting
as Vocation Director, he has served as a mentor to young priests in the
Bishop Folda has asked pastors to invite key parish leaders to participate as members of his parish delegation. Pastors, please register the members of your parish delegation for the Convocation of Parish Leaders by following the “Online Registration” link on the Clergy Resources web page (password required). The registration fee for each participant is $50.
Individuals representing non-parish groups should contact Ashley Grunhovd (701-356-7908 or ashley(dot)grunhovd(at)fargodiocese(dot)org) for directions on how to register.