FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION, MISSION
Bishop Alan Hopes launched the online survey of the Diocesan Listening Project, ‘The Synodal Pathway’ on Sunday November 28. Angela Wilson, part of the Synodal Pathway Team, explains.
The Synodal Pathway, which began in the Diocese of East Anglia on Sunday October 17, has taken another step along the way with the launch of the online survey by Bishop Alan.
We are being asked specifically to explore ten main themes, which cover a lot of issues, but there is one unifying theme: how can the Church better fulfil her mission of offering hope to ALL people? Each person’s contribution will be valued, but you do not need to answer every question posed, they are there to guide the discussions.
Pope Francis is using this worldwide listening exercise to prepare for a Synod of Bishops in Rome in 2023, so the responses from our Diocese will go forward to the worldwide Synod, but will also be used in our own Diocese as part of a pastoral plan of renewal.
Parishes are invited to gather in small group meetings to discuss these questions with each other and then to respond individually via the online survey, which can be found on the rcdea.org.uk website and linked on parish websites, see below.
It is not so much a matter of sharing opinions; it is much deeper. We are being invited into a process of personal renewal and of listening to God with humility, as disciples of Jesus on a pilgrim journey through life, both as individuals, but also as part of God’s family.
So we are not only listening to the Holy Spirit speaking to us in our hearts, but also speaking to us through our brothers and sisters. Respectful, attentive listening to their insights will strengthen our bonds of charity. As we journey together, we are walking on the path with Christ, who reveals to us the truth of our lives and who gives us life in Him. Every Christian shares this prophetic office with Christ and each of us shares His mission, the mission of the Church.
At the heart of the listening process are three words which Pope Francis has chosen as the theme of the Synod:
Communion, Participation, Mission
As sons and daughters of the one Father, we are in communion with each other. We are members of the Body of Christ, Jesus, and we are temples of the Holy Spirit.
Participation means our participation as missionary members of the Church. Each member of God’s family needs to discern how they can contribute to building up the Church.
Mission is the purpose of the Church. Jesus died to take away our sins and bring us to eternal life. New evangelisation involves re-proposing the Gospel to a society that has been profoundly influenced by Christianity, but whose members have fallen into indifference and scepticism.
The Synodal Team hope that our Diocesan family will take this opportunity to be part of the renewal that began with Vatican II, and which continues to shape the Church in the 21st century.
Responses from participants should be submitted to our diocese by Tuesday March 8, 2022 to be included in the responses which go forward to the Bishops’ Synod in 2023.
You can contact the Synodal Pathway Team at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The ten questions are to be considered by parishes as the Diocese embarks on the Synodal Pathway are:
1 How welcoming is our parish?
2 How good are we at listening?
3 How good are we at communicating?
4 How well does the Church’s liturgy inspire a deeper encounter with the Risen Lord?
5 How well do I understand and participate in the mission of the Church?
6 How well do we engage with the wider world?
7 How good is our relationship with other Christian traditions?
8 How well do we work as a team in our parish?
9 How open are we to the will of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit?
10 How well do we hand on the faith?
More information and background to the Synodal Pathway can be found at www.cbcew.org.uk/synodal-church/ and www.rcdea.org.uk/synodal-pathway/
The Church encourages as many people as possible to take part in the survey, including those at the margins of society or parish; those who have fallen away from the faith and those who are curious about a life of faith.
Joe Walton is the Parish Coordinator for the Synodal Pathway in our parish. Please contact him at 01366 347455 if you have any queries.
- Please note the instructions on the "About you" page of the online survey:
. You do not have to add your name to the survey.
. Your contact details will not be shared.
- Our diocese encourages as many people as possible to use the online survey.
- Paper versions of the survey will be available from our church. Paper versions will need to be returned to our church by Sunday 20th February 2022 at the latest, to allow time for responses to be uploaded (with the parishioner's permission) to the online survey by the 8th March deadline. Please put your paper responses in an envelope and place in the designated box in the church-porch or post through Fr Erico's letter-box.
- Listening: Bishop Alan writes, "We are being invited into a process of personal renewal and of listening to God with humility...we are not only listening to the Holy Spirit speaking to us in our hearts, but also speaking to us through our brothers and sisters."
- During the coming weeks, we are encouraged to take time to pray and reflect on the themes of the survey; to start having informal conversations and to listen to each other; to join in small-group discussions (if you wish). Then, when we are ready, we are invited to complete the survey and offer our individual reflections which will help to inform and guide our bishops as they prepare for their Synod in Rome 2023.
- We are encouraged to complete the online/paper survey individually following small-group discussions, remaining covid-safe. However, you do not have to attend a discussion group to complete a survey. If you feel unable to meet with others in person, it is absolutely fine to make your own responses to the survey on your own. Families or friends can of course meet informally, if they wish.
- So, we will start by offering a choice of weekly small-group discussions in our parish room after the 9.30am Mass on Tuesdays and at 7pm on Wednesdays, beginning Tuesday 7th December. Everyone is warmly invited. We will begin our discussion with the Synod Prayer. We can set ourselves a certain length of time for our discussions. One of us will always be present to host the meetings (and switch the heating on and make us all a cup of tea/coffee, too, if you like!).
- 'Each person's contribution will be valued' but you do not need to answer every question or sub-question posed...they are there to guide our thoughts and discussions.
- Finally, let us pray to the Holy Spirit for wisdom and insight as we embark on the Synodal Pathway in our parish.
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created.
And you shall renew the face of the earth.