This blog contained a posting on Dec. 8 last year that proposed a Missionary-Disciple Examination of Conscience (M-DEC). We offered a “Peripheries Checklist” drawn from the Participant Guidebook used at the US Bishops’ Convocation of Catholic Leaders in July. Now, with the arrival of 2018, with a healthy readiness to review the year past and plan for upcoming months, we present what you might call “M-DEC 2: The Mission Continues.”
Like its predecessor, this framework for assessing accomplishments and setting goals is drawn from the Convocation’s Participant Guidebook, this time from pages 57 through 61. That section is titled “Beyond the Convocation.” Its message is simple: The real work of the Convocation was hardly completed in Orlando. The work for leaders in missionary discipleship, whether or not they attended that July gathering, began in the second half of 2017 and must proceed apace this year—and will continue for years to come.
It may help to use this M-DEC 2 as a checklist of action items the convocation’s architects envisioned from the start. Ponder these as steps missionary disciples can take toward the encounters of faith, love and service that will put more flesh on the bones of the New Evangelization.
If you were part of your diocesan delegation to Orlando, did your group hold a couple of post-Convocation planning meetings in the fall of 2017? Did you plan a diocesan-level, follow-up edition of the Convocation? Did it occur, or will it occur this year? How will you retain the momentum that built up in Orlando and sustain it so as to bear fruit this year?
Whether or not you participated in the Convocation, are you pursuing lively discussions with grass-roots groups and individuals about the Church’s call to a discipleship that evangelizes? Are you sticking to the standard operating procedures of your Church job—or your voluntary ministry—that were in place before we all heard the wake-up call in July? Or are you listening to diverse voices in the mainstream and on the peripheries to discern evolving needs? Are you generating new ideas about your mission of encounter and accompaniment?
Are you encouraging the well-established and emerging leaders of the New Evangelization as they make their own action plans and consider their roles vis-a-vis hugely important events coming up in 2018? For example, how can the Church work together to optimize results as Pope Francis convenes a on the topic, “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment”? Also, dioceses are participating in the , with a major national meeting on Latino ministry set for September. The Scriptures remind us to “encourage one another and build one another up.” (1 Thes 5:11)
Have you become cognizant of, or active in, the development of new avenues for communication about various initiatives of missionary discipleship? What is not being sufficiently reported? Whose voices are not being heard? Can greater synergies be achieved by creating new channels for news, opinion and cooperation?
In summation, this examination of conscience cannot improve upon verbatim quotes from the Guidebook (page 60) itself. These are questions we can ask ourselves and our colleagues, allowing last year’s wisdom to challenge us now: How well are we living out the vision of Pope Francis and The Joy of the Gospel? How aware are we of the local landscape and mission field around our community? How have we personally accepted the Lord’s radical call to each of us to become Spirit-filled missionary disciples?
Thank you for completing M-DEC 2. Was it a tough exam? Are we all uncovering much more we need to do as dynamic Catholic leaders and enthusiastic followers of Christ? Even during these days of mid-January, as the Church’s urgent mission continues, maybe now is a good time for a few extra New Year’s resolutions.