BALTIMORE (WJZ) –Baltimore is the home to the first Catholic Archdiocese in America.

Now, as Mike Schuh reports, the 300 bishops who run the church in this country are returning to the spiritual home.

Almost since the formation of the Baltimore Archdiocese, the leaders of the Church in this country have left their flocks to gather at the Basilica downtown. And they have returned…300 in all.

It’s a time for reflection, prayer and leadership.

“We’re going to discuss the issues we feel are very important to the Church in the United States,” said Bishop Emeritus Sam Jacobs, Houma-Thibodaux, La.

Leading the conference is New York’s Archbishop Timothy Dolan.  He opened the gathering with an anecdote about being given a tour by his predecessor of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, a place where, upon his death, he will be entombed.

“He pointed out three slots, and he said, ‘Tim, that’s where I’m going to be buried and the other two are for you,” said Dolan.

It was a lighthearted opening, but serious work needs to be done, including how to increase the number of those who come to church, fill the pews and help the church grow.

“It’s an opportunity to talk about things that affect the whole country, pastoral issues, vocations, evangelization,” said Archbishop William Lori.

The church scandals may have alienated some, but the church realizes that is but one problem.

“I was bored. The sermons didn’t touch me. So there are more issues than just the scandals,” said Jacobs.

The meetings in Baltimore last until Wednesday.

The bishops will also work on the sainthood of a Catholic school teacher who worked with the poor in New York and on the election of board members to Catholic Relief Services, which is based in Baltimore.

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