Synod Talk - January 2022
Our readings today remind us that we belong to God and when God looks at us, God looks at us with love and with concern.
Pope Francis is calling the whole Church to engage in a Synod Process. You have heard about it, we are praying for the Synod and now we are going to learn more about it and we are going to do something about it.
The purpose of this Synod process is to help us deepen our sense of Communion, encourage our Participation in the life of the Church, and awaken our sense of Mission in our local parish. These are the goals of the Synod. What do they mean?
Communion – What happens to you has an impact on me. We are connected to each other and each of us is important. We all have a role to play in living out the gospel. We are to care for each other. God, the Church needs us to connect with each other.
Participation – We are all qualified to listen and to serve one another in love. We are all called to engage in the act of deep and respectful listening even when it is hard. We are being asked to serve one another by listening closely to the stories that we tell and supporting one another in our daily lives.
Mission – My parish needs me to be involved in the work of sharing the Gospel. The little things I do make a difference. We are witnesses of God’s love. Where is God leading us? What can I do to help God ‘love’ the world?
The word Synod means to walk together. Too often we, as members of the Church, do our own thing – we all do it: from the Pope on down to you and me! We do what suits us – what we want. Our first question is often, “How does that impact me?” We seldom think about how this impacts the Earth, my neighbour, my parish, or people in other countries. Pope Francis is inviting us to lift up our eyes to see what is happening around us, to open our ears and to listen to others and to share my story – how I see myself within the Church and the world.
This Synod is an opportunity for us to come together and to connect with one another in a deeper way.
There are a few Gospel values being highlighted in the Synod process.
The Synod is a time for speaking – for making my voice heard. The Synod is a time for listening – for paying attention to what others are saying about their life and their experience of God and the Church. The Synod is a time for change – for making new choices that fit this time in our history. The Synod is a time for including people we have given up on and people who have given up on us.
So, what is the Synod asking of us concretely?
Each parish is to gather people in small groups of 6-8 people. The groups are to be composed of a cross section of people from the Parish – People who go to Church, people who don’t, people who are young/old, people who are new to the parish and people who are not, people who are immigrants and people who grew up in the area.
The groups are invited to follow a process. When everyone is present, we introduce ourselves and begin our work with a simple prayer. Following the prayer there are 3 moments which are guided by a leader:
Moment One: We invite, but do not force people to share their thoughts and feelings around the following themes:
Moment Two: We invite, but do not force people to share what struck them as they listened to people in the group. We can ask questions of clarification. This is not a time for us to argue or persuade others to see things our way. This moment is about understanding the experience and the stories of the other people.
After each person has had the opportunity to share their response to these questions we sit in silence.
Moment Three: We invite, but do not force people to share with the group members what touched them deeply and what might the Holy Spirit be asking of us at this particular time in our history as a people.
As this process unfolds, one person records the insights and reflections offered by group members and then hands the paper into the Parish Office so that we can on the one hand, understand ‘the feeling’ of the parish members and at the same time share this information with the larger Church. The hope is that at each level of Church, (parish, diocese, Universal Church) we grow in our understanding of one another and grow in our ability to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus!
Today, I am inviting you to think about this process. If the Synod is to work, we need you, your prayer, your involvement, and your participation. If you remain silent, we will not grow as a community, we will not be walking together.
As you think about the process, ask yourself, “Can I lead a group?”. If so, contact the parish office and leave your name, phone number and email address. We will gather those who are willing to be leaders and give you a brief training session with a few dos and don’ts to help you lead the groups.
Our groups can meet in the Church, in the Parish Hall or if you and the members of your group are comfortable with doing so, you can meet in a home. For those who are technically minded we can also have groups meet by Zoom.
Those groups who choose to meet in person, please remember the SaskHealth Guidelines to mask up, to sanitize and to social distance.
As you think about the process, please consider being a group member. Not everyone wants to be a group leader. We do need to hear from you – all of you. Please let us know if you would like to be in a group and if you want to meet physically or if you prefer to use the Zoom platform.
Does anyone have a question?
Closing Comments: Personally, I am excited that our Holy Father and our Bishop are giving us the opportunity to speak to one another and to listen to one another. I look forward to listening to you and hearing from you. It is my hope that this process will lead to healing and new life within us and our faith community.
This process can help us understand each other – the things we hold in common, our differences, our hopes and dreams, our concerns and fears, our faith questions, and our faith commitments. This is not about making everyone think or do the same things. This process is about seeing and understanding one another. This process can help us be a better parish. This process can help us live the Gospel in our daily lives. May we walk together in hope, with the Holy Spirit as our guide!
Hi! My name is Fr. Doug Jeffrey, OMI and I am the pastor of the Meadow Lake Cluster. I serve the faith communities of Our Lady of the Smile, Waterhen, St. Jude's, Green Lake and Our Lady of Peace, Meadow Lake. I arrived in the cluster on August 15th, 2019. You can see more information about me on the home page!