We have been praying for the synodal process since October of last year. Occasionally, we have been able to send out information. This weekend I would like to share a few more details.
What is driving this process is that Pope Francis wants to hear from the whole Church about what is happening in our parishes. Together with the Bishops, they would like to know what the people think would make our parishes better. To do this he has proposed using the synodal process.
Synod means “journeying together” and involves listening to the Holy Spirit and to each other to discern the path we are called to walk together. The synod “is intended to inspire people to dream about the Church we are called to be, to make people’s hopes flourish, to stimulate trust, to bind up wounds, to weave new and deeper relationships, to learn from one another, to build bridges, to enlighten minds, warm hearts, and restore strength to our hands for our common mission.” The idea of synods is not exactly something new; synods emerged from the early Church. So this is not just another program or initiative. Synodality is a way of being Church, a way of living and operating of the Church.
Catholic Social Teaching teaches that the healthiest solution to any challenge is the most local solution. With that principle in mind, our listening sessions for this Synod as a diocese are going to take place as locally as possible at the parish cluster level. The diocese has defined three goals: increased communion, participation, and mission. The gatherings are designed to open doors to rich, vulnerable and honest conversations about where the Church’s members are thriving and where they are struggling. As we share in these conversations, we hope this will lead us to new relationships, resources and renewal in our parishes.
Here is how the gathering will be held. The first 15 minutes will be for hospitality and mingling. Two video presentations will then be played. Bishop Powers welcome and opening prayer. Then Chris Hurtubise’s presentation entitled Time for Personal Reflection. Lectio Divina will be used by all participants in small groups to reflect upon the scripture passage Mark 2:1-12, four friends lowering the paralytic through the ceiling. There will then be time for discussion. The diocese has provided six questions for discussion. At the end of this period everyone comes together in a large group for sharing. We end with closing prayer.
Information from these sessions will be collected and sent to the Bishop. We cannot possibly coordinate enough meeting dates and times to accommodate everyone, so the diocese has provided a portal on their website for individuals to use. It will guide you through this same format of the synodal process. Use: catholicdos.org/synod to find the instructions and portal access for individual participation. I will have this homily in the bulletin and online for your use.
We would like to invite as many people as possible to participate. As your Catholic Herald informs us, Synodality is about listening to the Spirit, not a “majority consensus.” Thank you for your time.
May the Lord bless you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen