Moving the tent pegs

“Moving the Tent Pegs” is the introductory session of Part II of the Hallam Diocesan Retreat “Becoming Synodal”.


In October 2021 Pope Francis opened a “Synod on Synodality” (i.e. looking at how we are journeying together as a church). He used the term “synodal church”, a church that in announcing the Gospel, “journeys together”. The worldwide Catholic Church was asked

  1. How is this ‘journeying together’ happening today in your church?
  2. What steps does the Spirit invite us to take in order to grow in our “journeying together?

In Hallam Diocese we spent the 5 months from October 2021 to February 2022 considering these questions in our parishes. Below is the Executive Summary of the report that was produced in May 2022, which was sent to the Bishops of England and Wales.

“People from 60% of active Catholic parishes in the Diocese of Hallam responded to a call to reflect together on their communion with, participation in and mission for and with the Church. The outcome of this 5 month process is a picture of a beloved Church in need of some reforms to enable that communion, participation and mission to go on into the future. There are many ideas about what can be done to create a more welcoming and inclusive Church that speaks, listens and lives the Gospel. Some suggestions for change are for the Universal Church, some changes can be carried forward at Diocesan and Parish level. The synodal process was seen as positive and hopeful and there was a wish for good fruits to come from it.

(See for the full report)

The consultation work of parishes and dioceses all over the world was submitted to Rome in Summer/Autumn 2022, and in November 2022 a “Working Document to guide the Continental Stage” was published. This document was titled “Enlarge the space of your tent”, and was the fruit of the Syntheses resulting from the consultation of the People of God in this first phase of the synodal process. It is to be used as a framework for further consideration at the Continental stage in 2022/23.

At a more local level, a Synodal Review Meeting is scheduled for March 2023 to review the progress in the Hallam Diocese.

Many people spoke about enjoying the Synodal process, having an opportunity to speak about their experience of the Church, and feeling that their voices were heard. There was a desire to understand the next steps, and for the conversations to continue.

“Moving the Tent Pegs”* is a way to continue our growth in synodality, by giving us an opportunity to prayerfully reflect upon the different themes emerging from the Diocesan stage of the Synod, to discern our personal responses, and to consider what changes we can each make in our own life, and in the life of the parish.

*derived rom the title for the Continental Stage “Enlarging the Space of your Tent”.

The themes are

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

We will begin our retreat by revisiting the last chapter of “Becoming Synodal” Part l. In Part I we began to learn, and to practice, some of the techniques of Synodal listening and Spiritual Conversation. In Part II “Moving the Tent Pegs” We continue to work towards growing into a Synodal Community in our parishes.

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.

Synod Prayer : Continental Stage

God, you have gathered all your people in Synod,

We give you thanks for the joy
experienced by those who decided to set out
to listen to God and to their brothers and sisters
with an attitude of welcome, humility and siblinghood.

Help us to enter these pages as on “holy ground”.


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

Outline of the retreat

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

The retreat is based on each of the 9 themes from Hallam’s Synod Report (see above). Each week we will consider one of these themes and reflect upon a relevant Gospel passage. Guidance is provided for each section. Each meeting will continue our Synod journey by focussing on listening to each other rather than having a general discussion.

We have suggested a way of looking at each theme, but feel free to do what feels right for you. It might help to have a facility to write down your responses. You may want to share a photo, piece of artwork, or a poem which better expresses how you want to respond.   Do not share anything you are not comfortable with. If there is something that you would like to talk over then please feel free to contact one of the coordinators. 

All participants in this Retreat at Home are encouraged to make regular time each day (to suit your situation) to prayerfully read and reflect upon the specific text for the particular week.

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 BEING SYNODAL 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