Beginning the Synodal Process
This Saturday, the Diocese will begin the next step in our participation in the two-year process leading up to the Synod of Bishops in Rome. The Synod of Bishops was instituted by Pope Saint Paul VI on September 15, 1965, with the motu proprio (an apostolic letter by papal decree) entitled Apostolica Sollicitudo. The next Synod of Bishops will be the 16th synod since the use of this format began. It will focus on the theme: For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission
A Synod is a Greek word (synodos) meaning a “meeting” or “assembly.” The two Greek words that form synod are syn, meaning “together,” and hodos, meaning “way” or “journey.” A synod is not meant to be a formal assembly for decision-making or a process of simply counting votes. Rather, the point is to discern the will of the Holy Spirit for the Church. Put another way, synodality asks us to consider: how can the Church better function as the Body of Christ?
The Holy Father is asking the Church around the world to consider how everyone in the Church — clergy, religious, laity — can better listen to one another and work together to proclaim the Gospel. When we achieve this, the Church can more effectively accomplish the mission Jesus entrusted to her. Considering this, synodality asks us to be people of prayer and discernment, rooted in the Holy Spirit. Without this, we run risk that our decision-making as a Church be more reflective of our own wills rather than what the Holy Spirit is asking us to do. To this end, on Saturday, November 6th, the Diocese will be hosting a formation day for those invited by their pastors or parish administrators to serve as Parish Ambassadors to assist in this initial synodal phase.
Evidence that the Holy Spirit is indeed at work in our Diocese comes in recognizing how well this process works with the Vocational Pathways: Go Out and Make Disciples section of my recent Pastoral letter, Journeying Together. In this area, I ask all of us to journey together to ensure that everyone in the diocese participates in the work of renewing our local churches. Renewal takes everyone – clergy, religious, laity – working together in order to bring about a stronger and renewed Church post-pandemic.
This is truly an exciting time in our Church, and I ask you to please keep the Revitalization Committee, Parish Ambassadors, volunteers, and myself in your prayers as we come together this weekend to prepare better to be a listening Church.
Sunday, November 7th begins National Vocation Awareness Week (NVAW). This annual week-long celebration of the Catholic Church in the United States, November 7-13, 2021, is dedicated to promoting vocations to the priesthood, diaconate, and consecrated life through prayer and education, and to renew our prayers and support for those who are considering one of these particular vocations.
National Vocations Awareness Week began in 1976 when the U. S. bishops designated the 28th Sunday of the year for NVAW. Beginning in 2014, NVAW was moved to the first full week of November. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) provides many helpful resources for your parish, school, or family to celebrate and pray for vocations, not only during this week but throughout the year. Please visit the USCCB website to learn more.
FACE Scholarship Dinner Livestream
The annual Foundation to Advance Catholic Education (FACE), Fall Scholarship Dinner will be held this evening at White’s of Westport. As I mentioned in last week’s blog, we are delighted to come together once again to celebrate Catholic Education and to raise scholarship funds to help children of our Diocese with tuition assistance. It is also a blessing that Christian recording artist Matt Maher is able to join us in person this year, and we are looking forward to his special live performance. For those not able to join us in person this year, we invite you to join the FACE dinner livestream this evening, on the FACE Facebook page, beginning at 6:45 pm.
A Final Note
In the last few days, God has called home to their eternal reward two priests who faithfully served our Diocese. Please remember in your prayers Father Conrad Salach, a Conventual Franciscan who has led Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in New Bedford since 2011, and Father John Andrews, a retired diocesan priest who served in several parishes in his 49 years of active ministry. May God grant them His everlasting peace.
Yours in Christ,
Bishop da Cunha