by Joe Bollig
For many of the 1,500 Catholics who attended, the “Enflame Our Hearts: Be Disciples, Make Disciples” convocation Oct. 3-5 at the Overland Park Convention Center was a transformative experience.
It was also historic. Never before have so many Catholics from such varied places, backgrounds and walks of life gathered for so vital a purpose: to build a culture of evangelization in northeast Kansas.
The event was two years in the planning. The delegates from parishes, religious communities and Catholic organizations had spent months preparing with prayer, study and meetings.
But nobody really knew what would happen when the doors of the cavernous exhibition hall opened to receive them. Would their hearts be “enflamed”?
The delegates prayed and listened to testimonies of faith. They heard inspiring speakers and spent time in eucharistic adoration. They prayed together at Mass. They gathered in small groups during “campfire” sessions to discuss provocative questions and to model methods of evangelization.
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann called the delegates to be “missionary disciples,” followers of Jesus who were filled with a burning desire to share the good news of salvation to others.
They didn’t have to go far. Their mission field was right under their feet — among family and friends, and anyone they encountered.
The progression of their “missionary impulse” was to begin in their hearts, move to their homes and parishes, and then on to their communities.
“All of you are here today because of a divine appointment from God,” said Susan Stallbaumer, from Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Seneca, to the delegates on Oct. 5. “There are no coincidences in life. You were to be here this weekend at this convocation. God has big plans for each of you here today. Be willing to trust him and follow him.”
When the delegates went streaming out of the doors to return to their homes and regular lives, one thing was abundantly clear: The fire was burning bright.