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Can we make the Synodal Process an ongoing part of our parish culture?

November 28, 2022, 12:00 PM

Posted by John Derrig

During the local phase of the Synod 2021 - 2023 program, I was on the committee that organized and conducted the St. Gall Listening Sessions.  In this capacity, I had the privilege of attending all of the listening sessions and I was consistently amazed at the compassion, depth, and insight that characterized these conversations.  After attending all of these wonderful sessions, I consistently thought, “Isn’t there a way we can make this synodal process more a part of our parish?”

I think that “Synodal Process” or “Becoming a Synodal Church” seems a bit confusing.  I much prefer Pope Francis’ idea of “a culture of encounter”:

To speak of a “culture of encounter” means that we, as a people, should be passionate about meeting others, seeking points of contact, building bridges, planning a project that includes everyone. This becomes an aspiration and a style of life.
(FRATELLI TUTTI, Pope Francis, paragraph 216.)

I also enjoy the purpose statement in the summary of the process:

We recall that the purpose of the Synod is not to produce documents, but to plant dreams, draw forth prophecies and visions, allow hope to flourish, inspire trust, bind up wounds, weave together relationships, awaken a dawn of hope, learn from one another and create a bright resourcefulness that will enlighten minds, warm hearts, give strength to our hands.

As a long time St. Gall parishioner, I know that we already do this sort of thing but I also know that we can always get better.  It seems to me a bit of a shame to do listening sessions just once and then simply move on.  Does anyone else feel this way?

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