Vision 20/20 Convocation: it starts with respect


When you gather 450 delegates on a college campus to brainstorm about revitalization of the Catholic Church in southeast Iowa, fostering communication among the divergent voices is essential.

The delegates, who arrive today, June 6, for the three-day Vision 20/20 Convocation, have received some terrific advice ahead of the convocation to inspire their conversation and communication.

One of the documents, available on the Vision 20/20 website (
vision-2020) provides a template for communication that all of us, delegates or not, would be wise to adopt in our daily interactions. Here’s an excerpt:

“Whether you are a youth or an adult, make this simple phrase your mantra throughout the entire convocation: ‘Seek first to understand, then to be understood.’ And be sure to practice ‘RESPECT’ in your discussions following these guidelines for respectful communication:


R: take responsibility for what you say and feel, and speak with words others can hear and understand.
E: use empathetic listening, not just to words, but also to feelings being expressed, and to nonverbal language including silence.
S: be sensitive to differences in communication styles.
P: ponder what you hear and feel before you speak.
E: examine your own assumptions and perceptions.
C: keep confidentiality.
T: trust the process of the convocation because we are not here to debate who is right or wrong but to experience true listening, dialogue and understanding.

Delegates serve as a spark that gets the flame going, Father Rudolph Juarez said in an article about the Vision 20/20 Convocation that appears on the front page of this week’s Catholic Messenger. Think about that imagery. Think back to the Easter Vigil seven weeks ago when a darkened space filled with light as each of us lit the candle of the next person. In silence, we communicated the light of faith.

Now, on the cusp of Pentecost, we are called, as followers of Jesus, to share the joy of the Gospel through our words, our actions and interactions with one another. When we communicate with respect, our voices will be heard and our message of faith will foster a vitality in the Catholic Church in southeast Iowa for generations to come.

Barb Arland-Fye, Editor

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