ORLANDO, Fla. (CNS) — Theirs was a monumental responsibility: shepherding lay leaders, cardinals, archbishops, bishops, religious, deacons, musicians, event staff and a legion of volunteers at the historic “Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America” July 1-4 in Orlando. “This convocation is a journey, and there will be three of us here to guide you through the next four days,” said Bishop Edward J. Burns of Dallas, one of the event’s emcees. The consistent presence — on stage and off — of Bishop Burns, along with emcee Julianne Stanz, director of new evangelization for the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin, and moderator Gloria Purvis, co-host of “Morning Glory” on EWTN Radio, kept the entire program flowing smoothly despite any behind-the-scenes hiccups. Sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the convocation brought together more than 3,100 lay and religious leaders from 160 dioceses and 185 national organizations. They gathered to explore the current challenges and strengths of the church and its evangelization efforts. “All the good, dedicated, committed lay faithful present truly touched me,” Bishop Burns told Catholic News Service, “especially knowing that they are the Catholic leaders in their dioceses and Catholic organizations.” The event, which marked a first in U.S. church history, was a national response to Pope Francis’ 2013 apostolic exhortation, “Evangelii Gaudium” (“The Joy of the Gospel”), according to organizers. The exhortation lays out a vision of the church dedicated to evangelization — or missionary discipleship — in a positive way, with a focus on society’s poorest and most vulnerable, including the aged, unborn and forgotten. In addition to lay delegates, attendees included 155 cardinals, archbishops and bishops, along with 380 priests, 175 women religious, 125 deacons and 10 religious brothers.