John L. Allen Jr.: Lofty rhetoric aside, why the U.S. bishops’ ‘Convocation’ mattered

(Crux) I’ve not seen the budget for the July 1-4 “Convocation of Catholic Leaders,” a basically unprecedented gathering of almost 3,500 bishops, clergy, religious and laity, including five of the six residential cardinals in the country, hosted by the U.S. bishops and featuring delegations from more than 80 percent of the dioceses in the county and all 50 states, but I do know this: It cannot have been cheap.

We’re talking about renting a Hyatt convention center in Orlando for four days for an awful lot of folks, plus all the expenses of putting such an event together. The logistics were daunting – a member of the bishops’ conference IT team told me they’d brought down 60 laptops and 30 printers, just for conference staff, all of which had to be shipped there and back.

Theoretically, that expense of time and treasure was motivated by the lofty aim of the gathering: “To form leaders who will be equipped and re-energized to share the Gospel as missionary disciples, while offering fresh insights informed by new research, communications strategies, and successful models.”

After four days, did that actually happen? Time will tell, especially as the delegations who gathered in Orlando return to their dioceses and parishes and try to implement whatever it is they picked up here.

In the meantime, however, there are at least three immediate take-aways that suggest the event was significant, whether or not, over time, it lives up to the elevated billing. [More]