Pope Francis Speaks on Synodality
During Pope Francis’ opening of the synodal assembly, he used three keywords: participation, communion, and mission. In a recent pre-Christmas address to the Roman Curia, Pope Francis expounded upon these words. And while these words were meant for the Curia, there is much we can take with us as we journey together in our synodal process here in the Diocese of Fall River; I thought we could all benefit from reflecting on his words. I’ve included a few quotes from his remarks below:
“First, participation. This ought to be expressed through a style of co-responsibility. Certainly, in the diversity of our roles and ministries, responsibilities will differ, yet it is important that everyone feel involved, co-responsible for the work, without having the depersonalizing experience of implementing a program devised by someone else… Authority becomes service when it shares, involves, and helps people to grow…
The second word is communion. This does not have to do with majorities or minorities; essentially, it is based on our relationship with Christ. We will never have an evangelical style in our respective settings unless we put Christ back in the center, not this or that party opinion: Christ at the center. Many of us work together, but what builds communion is also the ability to pray together, to listen together to God’s word, and to construct relationships that go beyond work and strengthen beneficial relations between us by helping one another. Otherwise, we risk being nothing more than strangers working in the same place, competitors looking to advance, or, worse yet, forging relationships based on personal interests, forgetting the common cause that holds us together…
Seeing things from the standpoint of communion also entails acknowledging our diversity as a gift of the Holy Spirit. Whenever we step back from this, and regard communion as a synonym of uniformity, we weaken and stifle the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit in our midst. An attitude of service requires, and indeed demands, a good and generous heart, in order to recognize and experience with joy the manifold richness present in the People of God. Without humility, this will not happen…
The third word is mission. This is what saves us from falling back on ourselves. Those who are turned in on themselves “look from above and from afar, they reject the prophecy of their brothers and sisters, they discredit those who raise questions, they constantly point out the mistakes of others and they are obsessed by appearances. Their hearts are open only to the limited horizon of their own immanence and interests, and as a consequence they neither learn from their sins nor are they genuinely open to forgiveness. These are the two signs of “closed” persons: they do not learn from their sins and they are not open to forgiveness…
Only a heart open to mission can ensure that everything we do, ad intra and ad extra, is marked by the regenerating power of the Lord’s call. Mission always involves passion for the poor, for those who are “in need,” not only of things material, but also spiritual, emotional and moral. Those who hunger for bread and those who hunger for meaning are equally poor. The Church is summoned to reach out to every form of poverty. The Church is called to preach the Gospel to everyone, since all of us are poor; all of us are, in one way or another, needy…
Participation, mission, and communion are the characteristics of a humble Church, one attentive to the voice of the Spirit and not self-centered.”
The Diocesan Synodal Phase is a widespread consultation at the local level which invites the laity, clergy, and religious to pray, listen, and share to better journey together as a Church. This Synod is not about changing doctrine or church structures but encountering one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. The input and feedback generated through this consultation will become part of a national report submitted for the 2023 gathering of Bishops in Rome that will bring the Synod to its conclusion.
As 2022 begins with ongoing challenges due to the pandemic, please know the Diocese, our pastors, and parish ambassadors are working to accomplish the goals of the Diocesan Synodal Phase. Of utmost importance is to strive together to create a welcoming, listening, local Church as part of our ongoing revitalization efforts. For more information on the synod, please visit the Diocese of Fall River website.
Diocesan Anniversary Celebration
On Sunday, February 13, I will celebrate a special Mass of Thanksgiving for couples observing significant anniversaries during 2022. Couples who would like an invitation should see their pastor as soon as possible as the deadline to register is Friday, January 14th.
This Mass of Thanksgiving is a beautiful tradition honoring the Sacrament of Matrimony and a special way to recognize, celebrate, and bless married couples in our diocese. The Church cares and wishes to help support couples in their marriage, to that end, the Secretariat for the New Evangelization offers various resources on their website to help enrich your marriage.
Catholic Communication Campaign
The annual Catholic Communication Campaign (CCC) collection will be taken up at parishes in the Fall River Diocese during the weekend of January 15 and 16. When a Diocese collects funds for the CCC, 50% of the proceeds remain within the diocese for communications projects and initiatives. These funds can be used for website enhancements, studio equipment for audio and video recording, social media strategy and implementation, news and event coverage, and much more.
A portion of the CCC funds remaining in the Fall River Diocese provides partial funding for a variety of communication endeavors including the weekly Mass that airs on WLNE-TV, Channel 6. The Diocesan Television Mass is broadcast on WLNE-TV, Channel 6, on Sunday at 11 a.m. The Fall River Diocese covers production, airtime, and closed-captioning costs.
Communication plays a key role in the Fall River Diocese’s evangelization and outreach efforts. In the digital age, it is crucial the diocese maintains current, effective means of connecting with people in our area. To learn more about the Catholic Communication Campaign and the important work it supports on the national level, please visit www.usccb.org/ccc.
Yours in Christ,
Bishop da Cunha