The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend opened the 2021-2023 Synod on synodality on Oct. 16 of last year, and this year will begin hosting sessions for members of the diocese to attend beginning later this month. The aim of the synod is to allow those whose voices are not typically heard to give their feedback to the greater Church at large.
These listening sessions will be held at each of the six vicariates around the diocese and will be hosted by local parishes. The first will be at St. Anthony de Padua in South Bend on Jan. 25 at 5:30 p.m., beginning with the celebration of Mass. From that starting point, other locations will hold their listening sessions until early March.
Sessions are open to anyone who would like to attend and are especially geared toward parishioners in each specific vicariate. Though the synod itself is basically a meeting of bishops, Pope Francis is highly focused on bringing the laity into the discussion on the universality of the Church, and particularly would like to hear from those “on the margins.” Therefore, everyone is invited to attend the sessions and consider how the Church can continue to move toward furthering her mission. The actual meeting of the bishops will take place in 2023, and these listening sessions will provide the only opportunity that the laity will have to contribute to the process.
In his homily opening the synodal process, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades said, “The Church has become increasingly aware that synodality is the path for the entire people of God. It’s a journeying together of all the faithful since all the baptized, both the hierarchy and the laity, are called to be active participants in the saving mission of the Church. There are a diversity of gifts and charisms among all the faithful for the renewal and building up of the Church.
“The theme of the synod, ‘For a Synodal Church,’ has three dimensions: Communion, Participation and Mission. We are being asked by the Holy Father to be open to the Holy Spirit and thus discern how God is calling us towards deeper communion, fuller participation and greater openness to fulfilling our mission in the world.”
Bishop Rhoades reminds those who would like to be included in the process to listen to God’s Word in Scripture and Tradition, to one another and to the poor and marginalized.
Prior to the opening of the fall assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in November, Archbishop William Lori gave a homily for the Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In it, he said that difficult problems within the Church should not be avoided, but “Rather, we must seek to know and do the truth in love.”
He emphasized the need for prayer as the process began and the importance of allowing the Holy Spirit to guide it.
Some of the questions to reflect upon during the listening sessions were provided by Anne Therese Stephens, diocesan coordinator of the synodal process. She strongly encourages anyone who plans to attend to pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, particularly with the following questions:
• How is this “journeying together” to announce the gospel happening today in our local parish, campus ministry, university, religious congregation? What steps does the Holy Spirit invite us to take in order to grow in our “journeying together?”
• How is God speaking to us through voices we sometimes ignore? Whose voices are currently not being heard?
• How do prayer and liturgical celebrations actually inspire and guide our common life and mission in our community?
• How is every baptized person called to participate in the mission of the Church? What areas of mission are we neglecting?
• What relationships does our Church community have with members of other Christian traditions and denominations? What do we share and how do we journey together?
• How is authority and governance exercised within our local Church (diocese/parish)? How are teamwork and co-responsibility put into practice?
• What is our experience of celebrating the Eucharist? What are some ways our parishes and diocese can place greater emphasis on realizing the infinite value of the Eucharist within our Christian life?
The list of listening sessions offered in each parish’s vicariate can be found on the diocese’s website: diocesefwsb.org/synod.
Come Holy Spirit, come!
O Holy Spirit, O my God, I adore You, and acknowledge, You in Your divine presence, that I am nothing and can do nothing without You. Come, great Paraclete, father of the poor, comforter the best, fulfil the promise of our blessed Savior, Who would not leave us orphans, and come into the mind and the heart of Your poor, unworthy creature, as You did descend on the sacred day of Pentecost on the holy Mother of Jesus and on His first disciples. Grant that I may participate in those gifts which You didst communicate to them so wonderfully, and with so much mercy and generosity. Take from my heart whatever is not pleasing to You, and make of it a worthy dwelling-place for Yourself. Illumine my mind, that I may see and understand the things that are for my eternal good. Inflame my heart with pure love of You, that I may be cleansed from the dross of all inordinate attachments, and that my whole life may be hidden with Jesus in God. Strengthen my will, that I may be made conformable to Your divine will, and be guided by Your holy inspirations. Aid me by Your grace to practice the divine lessons of humility, poverty, obedience, and contempt of the world, which Jesus taught us in His mortal life. Amen.
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