May 16, 2004 – It may have rained on St. Croix over the weekend, but spirits were not dampened at the first convocation held by the Roman Catholic Diocese of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Eighty people, representing a range of schools, parishes, groups and organizations, were trusted to come up with concrete proposals to guide the diocese in the next five years. Bishop George Murry said afterward that the meeting was better than anything he had imagined and that he was thrilled with the response. "I am committed to following the direction set out here," he said.
Meeting at St. Ann's Catholic Church on St. Croix, the delegates spent one day in small-group discussions listing their concerns and coming up with proposals. Then, in general assembly, the wide list of concerns was narrowed to seven general topics for the diocese to address.
They are: the need for more effective evangelization, parish unity, social outreach, vocations to priesthood and religious life, finances, a focus on education, and a renewed commitment to young people that may require hiring a youth coordinator for the territory.
"All the goals we set for ourselves are attainable in the next five years," Elizabeth Hering, administrator of St. Mary's Catholic School on St. Croix, said. "We have strong leadership from the bishop and dedicated people from the diocese that will do what they can to make sure it happens."
The next step is to get the ideas off the paper and into the diocese. The 80 participants will likely be at the core of mobilization efforts, which will include forming leadership teams. There is an understanding that each team will move along at its own speed.
"Forming a vocations plan will happen more quickly than finding a youth coordinator," the Rev. Charles Crespo of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church on St. John said. "We need an increase in leadership to make all these things happen."
Hering said that despite coming from diverse backgrounds, the delegates were able to find a lot of common ground. "I walked away with a great feeling of accomplishment and better ties with parts of the diocese that I hadn't considered before," she said. "There are a whole lot of us out there working toward the common goal."
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