July 13, 2017
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President John Garvey, photo courtesy of Catholic News Service

President John Garvey, Provost Andrew Abela, Deans William Bowman and Will Rainford, and two professors from The Catholic University of America participated in the recent Convocation of Catholic Leaders, a historic gathering of bishops, priests, religious, and lay people aimed at forming missionary disciples to share the gospel and re-energize the Church.

The convocation, held July 1 through 4 in Orlando, Fla., drew more than 3,200 participants who represented almost 160 dioceses and included about 2,550 lay people. Catholic University administrators and faculty members who participated in panel discussions at the convocation included:

  • President Garvey: The Catholic Landscape at Colleges and Universities
  • Abela: Catholic Social Thought: The Role of Business, Advocacy, and the Community in Reducing Poverty
  • Bowman, dean, Busch School of Business and Economics: Missionary Discipleship and Business Leadership
  • David Cloutier, associate professor, moral theology and ethics: Practical Strategies for Caring for God’s Creation
  • Andreas Widmer, director of Entrepreneurship Programs: International Solidarity: Our Role Within the Global Landscape

Abela noted that “Catholic University’s strong showing at the Convocation of Catholic Leaders is a sign of the University’s commitment to the Church. We were grateful for the opportunity to lend our expertise to this important endeavor.”

Will Rainford, dean of the National Catholic School of Social Service (NCSSS), attended the convocation to share how students who study social work at the University are putting the Church’s social teaching into action.

“I went to the convocation as an administrator in Catholic higher education to discover how Catholic universities in America can partner with local dioceses to share the joy of the Gospel through creating social and economic mobility for people in poverty,” he said.

Rainford added that as he met participants working with people who are marginalized and oppressed, he let them know that Catholic University “is the best opportunity for people to grow in their educational pursuits as a continuation of their journey of faith.”

Sharon O'Brien, director, Catholics for Family Peace ministry, NCSSS, participated in two panels: Violence and Unrest in Our Communities, and The Silent Witnesses: Abuse, Violence, and Human Trafficking.

Rev. Frank Donio, S.A.C., B.A. 1989, M.A. 1993, D.Min. 2012, lecturer for the School of Theology and Religious Studies, served as a lead panelist for a session titled "Landscape and Challenges According to Evangelii Gaudium." The panel also included Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington and University Chancellor.

Father Frank, as director of the Catholic Apostolate Center, which includes several University alumni on its staff, contributed to the planning and development of the guidebook that all of the participants used as a formation tool throughout the convocation.

Tyler Lomnitzer, who earned a B.A. in English at Catholic University in 2015, served as a staff assistant for the event, which was convened by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Lomnitzer now works in the USCCB’s Office of the General Counsel.

Rising University junior Isaiah Burroughs, a recent convert to Catholicism who served as a delegate at the convocation, described the event as “an incredible opportunity to be with the people from Catholic University who helped to form my faith life.”

Burroughs, a theology major from Fort Washington, Md., said, “With my major and the support I got from the convocation, I definitely have the tools to talk about my faith. I look forward to bringing people back to the Church.”

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