Orlando, Florida — More than 100 Catholic leaders attending the Leadership Roundtable's annual convening in Orlando said the church needs to go beyond "engaging laity" to "appointing, recruiting, promoting and empowering diverse lay leaders."
"This requires laity and ordained being in right relationship as co-responsible for the mission" of the Catholic Church, said the group in a statement released after the close of its June 29-30 meeting.
The Washington-based National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management held its annual convening just before the U.S. bishops opened the "Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America" July 1-4 in Orlando.
Under the theme "Engaging, Equipping and Energizing Catholic Leaders for the Joy of the Gospel," the roundtable gathered Catholic leaders from across the United States to explore best practices in developing Catholic leaders as missionary disciples.
"Building upon a framework of empowered humility and creativity in ministry, participants articulated a vision of leaders as missionary disciples grounded in authenticity, joy, relationship and attention to those at the margins," it said.
In its statement, the group said that "formation of leaders as missionary disciples is more than an intellectual experience. It is one that happens through encounter with God's people in vibrant local communities, through mutually beneficial service and immersion experiences."
The Leadership Roundtable listed several key elements it said are needed in such formation of leaders, including:
- Commitment to action and contemplation centered on Jesus and the Gospel.
- Building bridges between laity, clergy and religious through shared formation, mentoring and leadership.
- Partnering "with the full reality of our multicultural, multilingual church and society."
- Preferential option for people on the margins, and a commitment to engage women, youth and young adults in meaningful leadership.
- "Engaging people where they are rather than condemning them" and "accepting risk and inviting the imperfect disciple to serve."
The Leadership Roundtable also said it is necessary for church leaders to practice accompaniment by "partnering with" rather than "doing for" and making space and providing resources for people "to create the church to which they want to belong."
The roundtable also cited the need to go outside of one's comfort zone, "especially through short- and long-term mission experiences."
It said the statement "builds upon a framework of empowered humility and creativity in ministry provided by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut. In addition to drafting the statement, participants at the convening came up with one tangible action to which they each could commit to advance leadership formation in their own work.
Besides Caggiano, speakers at the convening included Bishop Mark L. Bartchak of Altoona-Johnstown, Pennsylvania; Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky; Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki of Milwaukee; and Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore.