ABOUT THE SYNOD

WHAT IT IS...

This is a unique opportunity to contribute to the mission of the Church. Pope Francis has invited Catholics throughout the world to listen prayerfully to what the Holy Spirit is saying to us. We are called to share our insights with our Archbishop, George Stack, who after reviewing the feedback, will submit a summary document to the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. This is expected to happen by Easter.

As a parish, and indeed the Church, we are being asked to explore key issues within our Church today. We don’t have to answer every single one, but there is a unifying theme to follow: how can the Church better exercise her role of offering hope to ALL the people of this generation and generations to come?

Pope Francis is using this unique worldwide listening exercise to prepare for a Synod of Bishops which is expected to take place in Rome in 2023.  Archbishop George  Stack will use the material which the process will generate in our own Archdiocese to devise and facilitate a pastoral plan.

WHAT IT IS NOT

It is clear that the purpose of this Synod is not to produce more documents. Rather, it 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 (PD, 32).

Thus the objective of this Synodal Process is not simply a series of exercises that start and stop but rather a journey of growing authentically towards the communion and mission that God calls the Church to live out in the third millennium. We are beginning this journey by inviting you our community to participate in this new mission.

WHO IS IT FOR?

We see throughout the Gospels how Jesus reaches out to all. The ministry of Jesus shows us that no one is excluded from God’s plan of salvation.

In this light, Pope Francis is inviting all people to participate in the Synodal process. No one is excluded. Whatever your beliefs or background please take part in this journey.

THE THREE WORDS

COMMUNION

The Church is Catholic because she is sent to all, in order to gather the entire human family from every nation and culture, under the Lordship of Christ and in the unity of his Spirit.

By His gracious will, God gathers us together as diverse peoples of one faith, through the covenant that He offers to His people. The communion we share finds its deepest roots in the love and unity of the Trinity. It is Christ who reconciles us to the Father and unites us with each other in the Holy Spirit.

Together, we are inspired by listening to the Word of God, through the living Tradition of the Church, and grounded in the sensus fidei [sense of faith] that we share.

We all have a role to play in discerning and living out God’s call for his people.

PARTICIPATION

A call for the involvement of all who belong to the People of God – laity, consecrated and ordained – to engage in the exercise of deep and respectful listening to one another.

This listening creates space for us to hear the Holy Spirit together, and guides our aspirations for the Church of the Third Millennium. Participation is based on the fact that all the faithful are qualified and are called to serve one another through the gifts they have each received from the Holy Spirit.

In a synodal Church the whole community, in the free and rich diversity of its members, is called together to pray, listen, analyse, dialogue, discern and offer advice on making pastoral decisions that correspond as closely as possible to God’s will. Genuine efforts will be made to ensure the involvement of those at the margins, or who feel excluded, or who are not members of the Church.

MISSION

The Church exists to evangelise. We can never be centred on ourselves. Our mission is to witness the love of God in the midst of the whole human family.

This Synodal Process has a deep missionary dimension to it. It is intended to enable the Church to better witness to the Gospel, especially with those who live on the spiritual, social, economic, political, geographical, and existential peripheries of our world.

In this way, synodality is a path by which the Church can more fruitfully fulfil her mission of evangelisation in the world, as a leaven at the service of the coming of God’s kingdom.

ORGANISATION

DIOCESAN STEERING GROUP

The Diocesan Team is working with clergy, laity and groups so that as many people as possible across the Archdiocese can contribute. Consultations and meetings are being organised in each parish. In addition, the Archdiocese will be organising smaller ‘focus’ groups so that people who have particular life experiences may be able to share from their own perspectives.

The whole process is supported by prayer and a spirit of cooperation and sharing.

YOUR PARTICIPATION

The Synod parish consultation process respects your individuality. Some may be more comfortable in expressing themselves in a group discussion, some may be more comfortable in expressing themselves individually on paper or via the online submission.

This period of consultation ends on Monday 7th March 2022.

TIMELINE

20 May 2021 – Pope Francis announces a Synodal Process throughout the Catholic Church, a discussion of which will form the basis for the deliberations of the 2023 Synod of Bishops.

8 September 2021 – The Holy See’s Synod Office sends information to all Bishops, including Ten Themes around which questions for discussion will be based.

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17 October 2021 – The official launch through the UK Bishop’s conference

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16th November – 1st Diocesan Training Module

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15th January 2022 – Team meeting to decide on questions to be put to the parishes

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25th January 2022 – 2pm Diocesan facilitators meet over zoom call

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29th & 30th January 2022 – call for support from the parish for facilitators and note takers

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30th January 2022 – Prayer cards distributed

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5th & 6th February 2022 – meetings with facilitators after Mass

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12th & 13th February 1st parish forum Consultation Meetings for St Mary’s

All parishioners following each weekend Mass

Venue: St Mary’s Catholic Church

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26th February 2022 – feedback meeting between parish teams

Venue: St Mary’s Catholic Church 3pm

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2nd March 2022 – 2nd parish forum Consultation Meeting

All parishioners following 7pm Mass

Venue: St Mary’s Catholic Church

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5th & 6th March 2022 – 3rd parish forum Consultation meetings

All parishioners following each weekend Mass

Venue: St Mary’s Catholic Church 3pm

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Week commencing 7th March 2022 – document writing

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13th March 2022 – feedback meeting between parish teams

Venue: St Mary’s Catholic Church 4.30pm

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19th & 20th March 2022 – feedback to parishioners following each weekend Mass

Venue: St Mary’s Catholic Church following weekend Masses

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