Our convention will take place October 19-21 in Providence, RI. Between now and then, I have been asked to keep VOTF informed about the convention. VOTF is a distinctive organization that does not readily fit into any existing category in the life of the Church. Our conventions reflect that distinctiveness. This convention, like the others before it, will have its own distinct style and reason for being. In this way, our convention is not typical of other national gatherings labeled “conventions.” For example, when the American Heart Association holds its convention, it follows a form and structure that has been in place for decades. Many of us go to annual professional conventions; they too have a regularity and formula. VOTF is still its formative years; we are still developing.

Our past conventions display this. They each reflect the character of VOTF as well as its emerging identity. Our character is located in our mission and goals. Our identity is located in the actions we take towards that mission. At Indianapolis we sought to discern central plans of action that would take us forward. While we will have a program that involves various actions, in Providence our main purpose is to celebrate and to reflect. We have shaped a program around the over-arching theme of a birthday party. At such a party, people gather to celebrate the present, to remember the past and to look forward to more birthdays in the future. We have created a convention with this in mind.

The convention committee has been working on our gathering. In our early phone calls we talked and listened to each other’s ideas about themes and speakers. As we did that we kept asking “who” is celebrating – Who are we? When we peeled away all the various layers of our identity, we came to our root, core identity as disciples of Jesus Christ. During this process we discussed our prior conventions. We noticed that when VOTF members gather, they want to learn and discuss and they also want to pray. We have created a program that involves both.

During a series of meetings, we collected ideas for the convention theme then asked the committee members to take the ideas back to their affiliates and VOTF constituencies for feedback. After a long process we decided upon the theme “Disciples in Action.” This theme allows us to include both education and prayerful reflection.

We will begin on Friday October 19 with workshops that will be presented by our Working Groups. These workshops are designed to display and celebrate the kind of work that has been going on in VOTF. They are also designed to inspire others as well as to provide the basic tools for implementing similar activities across VOTF. We open this way to celebrate who we are and where we are and have been. After the Workshops we will have refreshments and fellowship before we move to our Keynote speaker Richard McBrien. Professor McBrien is a long-time supporter of VOTF. Both Jim Post and Jim Muller approached him for advice when they were considering how to respond to the crisis. There are few theologians who know as much about the life and theology of the Catholic Church. Fr. McBrien will reflect upon where we have been and also upon the challenges of the present and future for VOTF.

On Saturday morning our President Mary Pat Fox will address the gathered community with her birthday reflections. Dr. Edwina Gateley will follow her talk. Dr. Gateley will share her insights about the spirituality for disciples who wished to be active and engaged. Judge Michael Merz will also address the convention; the Judge will converse with us about his work on the National Review Board for the USCCB. After lunch we will have several sessions, where panelists address various topics around our theme of discipleship. Saturday will end with our Liturgy and then a vigil and walk along the river in Providence. At this season of the year Providence lights the river with fires that make their way out to the sea. We will build upon the symbol of moving light with a procession of our own.

Our Convention Implementation Team from Indianapolis has been working on our next action with the up-coming convention in mind. They are developing resources on the conscience. It is the adult, carefully formed conscience that animates the life of disciples. We encourage you to look for that action from the CIT to prepare for October. We also follow in the wisdom of good Pope John XXIII who asked that the whole Church pray each day in the time before Vatican II convened. We ask for your prayers as well

In the Vineyard
May 3, 2007
Volume 6, Issue 9 Printer Friendly Version (PDF)

Page One

CONVENTION 2007 Update - October 19-21 in Providence, RI

DIOCESE/State Watch

Priests Support Working Group Update

Survivor Community News

Once There Was a Parish Rich” from Betty Claremont, VOTF Atlanta GA

“Following the Money” – VOTF/Fairfield University conference recap

BOOK Review: Hinze B. 2006. Practices of Dialogue in the Roman Catholic Church: Aims and Obstacles, Lessons and Laments. New York, Continuum, 326 pp. With thanks to reviewer Thomas F. Malone, Greater West Hartford, CT VOTF


Structural Change Working Group

Voice of Renewal/Lay Education

Prayerful Voice

Goal 2 - Priest Support



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