For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, Mission

For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, Mission

A two-year ‘synodal ’process is taking place in the Catholic Church from September 2021 that culminates in the final Synod Gathering of
Bishops in Rome in October 2023. Synod means “journeying together.

“What’s going on with this Synod in Hallam?”

This is Pope Francis’ Synod question:

“How does this journeying together,” which takes place today on different levels (from the local level to the universal one), allow the Church to proclaim the Gospel in accordance with the mission entrusted to Her; and what steps does the Spirit invite us to take in order to grow as a synodal Church?

Here’s a photograph of Pope Francis having a meeting with Cardinals on-line on Monday in September 2021, to talk about the Synod.

The Vatican preparatory documents to explain the process of the Synod can be found here.

Advice from the Catholic Bishops Conference are to be found here.

Here in Hallam, all parishes are invited to nominate two Synod Coordinators for their parish, to join the Synod Working Group.

After the celebratory launch liturgy on 17th October St Marie’s Cathedral, live-streamed across the Diocese, the Synod Working Group are meeting regularly .

The Synod Working Group: who are they and what will they be doing?
The purpose of the Synod Working Group is to plan, support and learn from listening to each other and our ideas about how to take the next steps in the Synodal process. The representatives from the Synod Working Group will be going back to their own parish or group, to think about, plan and organise ways of getting groups of people together to talk and listen to each other. This is to begin the prayerful process of formulating responses to Pope Francis’ question.

The invitation to join the Synod Working Group is for anyone.

There is also be a Synod Core Group of @12 people who will be more involved in the training of facilitators, producing materials and planning and analysis of responses; people with particular skills which might be useful for the task ahead are asked to volunteer.

What groups? Who is talking and listening to each other?

There are lots of different groups in different parishes, formal and informal, and different ways of getting together, including on-line. Parish Councils, finance groups, liturgy groups, reader groups, bereavement groups. Pax Christi, Justice and Peace groups…Or you can arrange specific Synod Response Groups, to meet and agree to reflect and talk and listen on the synod question. Remember to choose a scribe and gather up the things you discuss. Perhaps you are planning a Christmas Fair? Or a Coffee Morning? Or Friday Soup? Or a Walking Group? A Market Stall? Lectio groups, Rosary groups, SVP groups…

What are we supposed to be talking and listening about?

Take or create any opportunity to talk together and think about how your journeying together as Church is going and what way forward the Holy Spirit might be showing you. Gather up the responses, reflect on them together and see what common themes are emerging in your group and across different groups. Although it may seem daunting, in fact, when you start talking to people about their experiences and their faith journey, many people are delighted to be asked, and to have the opportunity to be listened to.

What do we do with the responses?

Responses can be emailed, posted, written on a postcard, in a letter, gathered up and reported back by a group member of facilitator. Some parishes are leaving postcards or envelopes on benches. There will be an on-line response survey for those who would prefer to give their views in that way. There is an email address for the responses of your groups [email protected] or for individuals.

For the moment, we are concentrating on building up the conversations. From January, the Core Group will think about how to discern together about where the conversations are directing us in Hallam and the whole Church. We will then need to decide what we are feeding back to Bishop Ralph, for him to take to the Bishops Conference of England and Wales in 10 pages. We will present this to the diocese before it goes to Bishop Ralph. He will convey it to the Bishops, who will take time to reflect and discern about what to take to Pope Francis at the Synod on Synodality in 2023.

However, the process of Synodality is not just a one off, for the purposes of producing a document, it is to see if we can walk together in solidarity into the future; synodality is the way of the Church in the 21st Century.

A big challenge is to make sure that the invitation to talk and listen is open and welcoming to all, particularly those on the margins. How will you do that…?

Sounds like a big task?

You can be as involved as you want to, to use your gifts and your voice to contribute to the Synodal process. What is God calling you to?

You are not doing this alone.

You will not be alone doing this, there will be opportunities for talks and training on such things as “How to facilitate a group”; “Listening”, “Discernment”, “How to get people involved”. Ask us for any help you might need. But the Holy Spirit is the powerful force supporting us in this work, so ask for help from the Holy Spirit also.

What’s going on already?

Groups have begun meeting and planning to meeting in different ways in different parishes, taking into account the Covid restrictions and peoples’ views about returning to face to face meetings.

Let us know what you have been doing, if you need any help, or if you would like what you have been doing included in next months Newsletter to help and encourage others.

If you are interested in being more involved, do get in touch [email protected]. Follow us on Twitter: synod@hallam