Being Synodal

Two things are notable about this week’s scripture pieces. In the first, the story of Pentecost, the disciples are together when they receive – and recognise – the Holy Spirit. That is what this Becoming Synodal retreat has been all about – finding renewed ways of being together. The second, the Gospel of the sending out of the seventy-two disciples, is about the way forward – to go with vulnerability and humility and gratitude. This week we begin to think about how we will harvest the fruits of the past seven weeks in our group, our parish, our local community and further afield. This is reflected in the “Questions” this week which are about looking forward.

We encourage you to be guided in your prayer and ponderings by the readings and the teachings from Pope Francis, and their explanation by Austin Ivereigh.

Opening prayer

If you are using this prayer by yourself at home, then remember that you are not alone. You are a valued member of this group, you are sharing this retreat together. Each person will pray and ponder in their own time and place, but the Spirit is with each and every one and all of you. You are together in God.

A: Creator of the world, eternal God,
B: we come together from our own places for a little while.

A: Redeemer of humanity, God with us,
B: we have come with all our differences seeking common respect

A: Spirit of unity, go-between God,
B: we have come with stories of our own to a place where stories meet.

A: So here, in this space, let us take time together. for when your people gather and stories are shared, there is much to celebrate and honour.
B: In your name, three in one God, pattern of community. Amen.

Adapted from “Iona Abbey Worship Book”, 2001. c 2001, WGRG, Iona Community (admin. GIA Publications Inc.) All rights reserved


When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.  Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.  They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 

Acts 2:1-3

Jesus told them, “Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.  Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road. When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’  If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you.  Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house. When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you.  Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’” 

Luke 10:2-9

Pope Francis on being Synodal

“Every renewal of the Church essentially consists in an increase of fidelity to her own calling… Christ summons the Church as she goes her pilgrim way… to that continual reformation of which she always has need, in so far as she is a human institution here on earth”. [from Vat II on Ecumenism]

There are ecclesial structures which can hamper efforts at evangelization, yet even good structures are only helpful when there is a life constantly driving, sustaining and assessing them. Without new life and an authentic evangelical spirit, without the Church’s “fidelity to her own calling”, any new structure will soon prove ineffective.

I dream of a “missionary option”, that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channelled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation. The renewal of structures demanded by pastoral conversion can only be understood in this light: as part of an effort to make them more mission-oriented, to make ordinary pastoral activity on every level more inclusive and open, to inspire in pastoral workers a constant desire to go forth and in this way to elicit a positive response from all those whom Jesus summons to friendship with himself.

EVANGELII GAUDIUM by Pope Francis 2013

Optional Resources

1*: A new imagination of the possible

Questions to ponder

Well done! You have reached the end of this first part of the BECOMING SYNODAL retreat. The work starts here! This page is a bridge to the second part of the retreat – how to make synodality effective in your group or parish.. You might like to take a break for a few weeks, then repeat this page as the beginning to the second part of the retreat.

During those few weeks, keep on pondering and discerning. As you continue to practice and experience synodality amongst yourselves and in your everyday lives, you will grow in the confidence to think about how it might be an effective way of doing things in your local church, your national church, the global church even.
A number of synodal themes have emerged in the Hallam Diocese – themes which have been highlighted by groups like yours, as being worthy of focussed consideration for review and or development. Which of them resonate with you? With your group? With your parish community? your diocese? which do you think are global challenges?

Outreach, community and mission
Prayer and worship
Clergy, power and hierarchy
Young people
Abuse, intolerance, and reconciliation
Good Works
Change and Modernisation

You might like to seek out resources which would be helpful in your discussions – just like the short pieces of writing, videos and images which we included in the BECOMING SYNODAL pages. Think of questions which would help you to explore the themes as well. If you forward everything to your facilitator, or another person who has volunteered to do this work, then all the material can be collated and distributed towards the end of your break, ready for your first MOVING THE TENT PEGS meeting.

Closing Prayer

A: As we continue in our retreat together, in this day and in our lives
B: May we be grateful for the blessings of this day, today and each day.
B: May we be grateful for the new stories and new ways of thinking we have explored, today and each day.
B: May we be grateful for kind company, heedful to God, heedful to ourselves and heedful to each other, today and each day

A: God who speaks so that all may hear you
B: Bless all that we have heard and honoured in our work today

A: God who has chosen your story to be part of our story
B: Enliven us with the grace of the stories we have shared and celebrated.

A: God who chose to be one with us, be with us now
B: As we recognise ourselves in the faces of this community around us   

A: God who has been faithful to us since the beginning of time
B: Keep us faithful to your Spirit amongst us as we are inspired to kindness and creativity and vision

A: God, whose Spirit of Wisdom has guided us through the annals and experiences of our histories
B: Guide us now as we discern the movement of that same Spirit amongst us

A: God, who inspired Pope Francis to reinvigorate your Church with the spirit of Synodality
B: Be with us now as we begin our work. To the glory of your name. Amen.

A: God from whom all gifts come, who shares our adventure, and delights in our friendship
B: We thank you for your presence with us as we embark on our work for you, and for each other, this day, and each day of our lives. Amen