Pope Francis has invited the People of God to participate in a worldwide
process of discernment in the lead up to the 2023 Synod of Bishops. A
synodal Church, in announcing the Gospel, journeys together.
The Diocesan Process phase of reflection and discernment which we have begun, has been extended until
29 April 2022. In your parish or through other groups, you are invited to participate in this global synod journey which is “first and foremost a spiritual process” as we listen to the Holy Spirit.
During October, Mike Stopforth and Spiritual Directors worked together to offer training sessions for facilitators from parishes and other groups, so that the discernment process can be offered in their local area. Three people who attended this training share their experience.
(Villa Maria College):
“With a small group of Spiritual Directors, I had the privilege of leading parish facilitators in a process
which encourages people to listen to their hearts and to each other, responding to Pope Francis’s question, “What does journeying together as Church mean to you?” This process has allowed people to share their experiences of ‘Church.’ Each person told a story about where they come from, where they are now, and their hopes for the future. I have been touched by people’s honesty. All of these stories have involved pain and joy, with a focus on hope for a better future. I encourage you all to seize this opportunity. The dialogue happening in parishes is a beautiful way to build community through sharing our stories and sharing our dreams. It is an honour to listen to other people’s experiences.”
(Parish of Christchurch East):
“This synod is a powerful opportunity to shape a church for the future. Two fundamental questions are being put to us: How is this journeying together happening today in your particular Church? What steps does the Spirit invite us to take in order to grow in our journeying together? The process we followed was to model the one that we could use with our parishioners with the focus on prayer and discernment.
We broke into small groups, prayed, listened, reflected, listened, and listened again. At the end of the
session each group presented the resonating ideas. I was surprised that almost identical themes kept
appearing. The leadership was very gentle and surprisingly open to new ideas. The people gathered gave me great hope for the future of the Catholic Church. I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide the Church to embrace the changes that will spring from this synod.”
(Parish of Christchurch South):
“I participated in the gathering at Christ the King called by Mike Stopforth in which we were led by
Kathleen Rushton RSM and Kevin Gallagher in karakia and korero and then worked in groups of five for 45 minutes. We discussed where we had come from with regard to our experience of the Catholic Church,
and then where we would like things to go. We had a diverse range of experiences and backgrounds, were all able to listen with respect and thoughtful response, and together come up with suggestions. If this synod is to truly be of the people of God, it will include all of the people of God at every level. We are all people of God – manawhenua, priests, refugees, disabled, married, religious, disaffected, bishops… God speaks through each and every one of us.”
Diocesan contact for the synod
Phone: 027 5398 542