Celebrating Concrete Expressions of Missionary Discipleship Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
October 28 - 30, 2016
In his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis writes how each person’s life is radically changed by their personal encounter with Jesus (#3) and how that personal encounter liberates each person. The disciples on the road to Emmaus highlight how their personal encounter liberated them from their grief and fear and how they became missionary disciples filled with joy from their encounter (Lk 24: 13-35). In response to our own encounter with Jesus, we too are called to be joyful witnesses to the Gospel.
Pope Francis reminds us that Jesus’ missionary command to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth “echoes in the changing scenarios and ever new challenges to the Church’s mission of evangelization, and all of us are called to take part in this new missionary “going forth”. (EG 20)” But how can we be Christ’s ambassadors in today’s world? What new challenges will missioners face in the years to come? Where is the “periphery” that we are called to bring the light of the Gospel to? How can communities go beyond themselves and embrace their missionary reality?
The United States Catholic Mission Association’s 2016 Conference will take place in the Cincinnati, Ohio region and is entitled: Together in Mission- Celebrating Concrete Expressions of Missionary Discipleship Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. In honor of USCMA’s 35th Anniversary, the aim of USCMA’s 2016 conference will be to highlight the mission reality of US Catholics serving around the world and at home and reflect how these realities can help make our local communities a reflection of Jesus’ liberating spirit and how these expressions of mission will adapt in the coming years. We are excited to have part of conference proceedings at Xavier University, where five percent of Xavier students serve in 28 countries each year. The location of the USCMA Conference on the Campus of Xavier University provides these students and faculty the opportunity to join the conversation about global mission. Through the various activities (including a keynote address, panel discussions, presentations and dialogue sessions, and a visit to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center) the 2016 USCMA Conference will allow missioners and those with missionary hearts the opportunity to “slow down, to put aside our eagerness in order to see and listen to others, to stop rushing from one thing to another, (EG46)” and to reflect on how the field of mission is changing in our times.
Just as we read in Acts of Apostles, Peter spoke the words from the Prophet Joel, “In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams” (Acts 2: 17). This year’s USCMA conference will be an opportunity to share in the visioning and dreaming that Spirit gives to us by examining where we are today in the Lord’s mission and where the missionary field will be heading. The conference will have a new format intended to attract USCMA members and friends, college students, local organizations, and parishioners to listen to the Spirit and reflect on our missionary reality both individually and as a communion of witnesses. As part of our reflection and discussion, conference attendees will also learn about USCMA’s new strategic plan toward continuing its 35 year mission to promote mission education, mission animation, and networking. The USCMA conference will be held at the Holiday Inn Cincinnati Airport hotel and at Xavier University, with a special visit to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.