by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. – There seems to be an art to everything these days. Waffle making. Beard maintenance. And for those of you old enough to catch the reference, even motorcycle maintenance.
Now Pope Francis is calling on all Catholics to participate in a global consultation and “become experts in the art of encounter.”
“Today, as we begin this synodal process, let us begin by asking ourselves – all of us, pope, bishops, priests, religious and laity – if we, the Christian community, embody this “style” of God, who walks the of history and shares in the life of humanity,” the pope said October 10, 2021, at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
The Synod of Bishops on Synodality will take place in Rome in 2023. Its theme is: “For a synodal Church: communion, preparation and mission”.
Now this consultative process is moving to dioceses and parishes around the world.
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann kicked off the synod process in the Kansas City Archdiocese in Kansas with an opening Mass Oct. 24, 2021 at St. Peter’s Cathedral.
Many Catholics may not know what a synod is.
“The process of convening a synod of bishops is truly a process of brotherly collaboration among the bishops of the world,” said Fr. John Riley, vicar general and chancellor of the archdiocese. “A synod is essentially an advisory body of bishops that gives the pope a means to discuss the issues of the day and to receive feedback and advice from bishops around the world.”
Bishop Naumann said synodality is a process that involves a community speaking, listening and praying together.
“Synodality is a way of talking about how the Church is called to be a community that journeys together,” he said. “It draws our attention to the synodal process which truly exemplifies the mission of the whole Church – a people journeying together, each of us not going our own way, but trying to follow Him who is the way, the truth and the life. .”
The pope has asked each bishop to engage in the process of gathering information for the synod by consulting with clergy, laity, the Catholic faithful and non-Catholics. In the Archdiocese, consultation will mainly consist of listening sessions.
“We have already done quite a bit of work in the Archdiocese,” Fr. Riley said. “We communicated with all the pastors of the 107 parishes. We sent them the questions to use to address the groups they want to engage. . . . [How the process is conducted] will be different, I presume, for each parish depending on the size and demographics of the parish.
Pastors do not have to use all of the questions suggested for the listening session. They serve as a guide. Congregations and ministries should focus on the issues most relevant to them.
Parish groups that pastors choose for the consultation process could include pastoral councils, finance councils, Ignite evangelism teams, parish training groups, Knights of Columbus, altar societies or congregations, youth groups, prayer groups, Hispanic or other ethnic groups, ministries or others. Individual parishioners who wish to participate, but do not belong to these groups, should contact their parish priest.
“Once [pastors] have consulted with their respective groups in their parishes, they will consolidate all of this information into one report for their parish to upload to our Archdiocesan website,” Fr. Riley said. “We are looking for a report by parish. They will need to consolidate all of their responses and synthesize their discussions into general themes on the questions we sent out for discussion.
In addition to parishes, other entities and ministerial groups will be involved in the consultation process of the synod. These include religious communities, Catholic academic centers in colleges and universities, high schools, and Catholic charities.
“I think it is important to note that [the synod] is not something that seeks to change the teaching of the church on issues or the way the church views this or that issue,” Fr. Riley said. “It provides, if you will, a lens through which the church can look to better live and articulate the truths contained in the Catholic Church and its teaching, and to carry out the mission of the church in the world. “
The deadline for all parishes and other ministerial entities or groups to submit their reports to the Archdiocese is April 1. 1.
The archdiocesan report – as well as those of all the dioceses of the world – will be used by the bishops who will participate in the synod on synodality in 2023. Eventually, this synod will produce a document.
January 12 – February 14: Pastors decide which groups or ministries to gather feedback from and schedule times and dates for in-person meetings, videoconferences or electronic communications.
January 10 – March 25: Parishes conduct their ministry and group meetings.
April 1: All reports must be entered on the Archdiocesan website.
The consultation questions of the Archdiocesan Synod are grouped under 10 topics:
2. Talk about our faith
3. Divine Worship
4. Take responsibility for our Christian mission
7. Decision making
9. Dialogue in Church and Society
10. Other communities of faith