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Arlington delegates to the USCCB Convocation take the message home

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Moonja and Tschangho John Kim, parishioners of St. Paul Chung Church in Fairfax, described the national church gathering as “heaven on earth.” Now, they and the other Arlington Diocese delegates are trying to bring a piece of that love and serenity back to their parishes.

“Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America” was held July 1-4 in Orlando, Fla., and attracted more than 100 bishops and cardinals, hundreds of priests and religious, and thousands of lay people. Through talks and breakout sessions, they were asked to be missionary disciples who reach out to those on the peripheries of society.

During an Independence Day wrap-up discussion, Arlington Bishop Michael F. Burbidge said that the diocese should engage the intellectual curiosity of those seeking truth — a takeaway he gleaned from a talk by Auxiliary Bishop Robert E. Barron of Los Angeles. Bishop Burbidge also said that the great good the diocese does in God’s name, such as WorkCamp, should be shared widely to show others the beauty of the church.

Around 20 diocesan participants attended the convocation. Several delegates expressed their gratitude for being included.

“A special thanks to Bishop Burbidge for his commitment to evangelization,” said Beverly Anderson, business manager of St. Joseph Church in Alexandria, who attended with her husband, Deacon Albert A. Anderson Jr. “My experience at the convocation was as if Pope Francis' ‘Joy of the Gospel’ came alive. We have been challenged by our shepherds to go out and spread the good news of the Gospel (by) calling on the Holy Spirit.”

Deacon Antanacio Sandoval of St. John Neumann Church in Reston learned how to better evangelize from the gathering. “(I will) remind instead of instruct those who have drifted away from our church,” he said. “Remind them of the beauty, the goodness, the richness and the joy of being Catholic.”

The Kims appreciated that the convocation touched on the challenges of rapidly changing technologies and the growing multicultural population of Catholics in this country. They felt the breakout sessions allowed church leaders to share solutions to the challenges facing the church.

“There were countless blessings that we have received,” the couple said in an email. “Among them, the word that struck us was ‘conversion.’ We both only knew that it meant converting from one religion to another, but now we understand the true meaning of it. That is to convert ourselves —  to open our hearts and ears to others as we listen and to try to understand them.”

The Kims hope to promote the “Love our parish” slogan as a way to ensure all parishioners feel included and loved. Then they will reach out to fallen-away Catholics and finally to people who express no belief in God, with reliance on the Holy Spirt for help.


Marierose Trinh Hoang, head of the interreligious/ecumenical affairs council at Holy Martyrs of Vietnam Church in Arlington, felt emboldened to reach out of her comfort zone and to evangelize others through actions and words. “God has worked wonders throughout this convocation,” she said. 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017