On 30 June the online Synod Survey closed. Up to that point, 1,300 people had filled in the Synod questions online. On 16 July the parish listening sheets all had to be sent to the Synod Office. It is difficult to say how many people the response represented, but a cautious estimate is that over 20,000 people have taken part. As well as this the specific youth survey has added another 570 responses.
What happens with all this listening?
Hope University (under the guidance of Father Peter McGrail, director of the Hope Institute of Pastoral Theology) have been analysing all the data so that it can be taken to the Synod working party to discern the next steps on our Synod Journey.
Who are the Synod working party?
The Synod moderators (Father Philip Inch, Father Matthew Nunes), Mrs Maureen Knight (pastoral formation), Mrs Debbie Reynolds (SFX pastoral worker), Sr Rachel Duffy FCJ, Miss Kate Wilkinson (school chaplain at All Hallows), Father Mark Beattie, Father Stephen Pritchard and Father Dominic Curran.
What will they do?
From 15–17 August the Synod working party will gather under the guidance of Father Eamonn Fitzgibbon and Dr Jessie Rogers (from Limerick Diocese). They will lead a three-day process of discernment and prayer. Father Peter McGrail will present all the data from the listening that has taken place and after a time of discernment we hope that a number of themes may emerge which indicate the way forward for us on our Synod journey.
The themes will be presented to Synod members at the September Synod gatherings in Wigan (21 and 25 September). They will also be presented to the Archdiocese on Synod Sunday in October, and then each theme will be explored, discussed, examined and prayed about. Synod members will then be invited to listen to the people of the Archdiocese and with them discern which proposals should be put forward based on each theme.
What can I do?
Pope Francis continually reminds us that the work of synodality is the work of the Holy Spirit and that if we listen and discern then the voice of God will be heard. At the opening of Synod 2020 in February 2019, Archbishop Malcolm said: ‘In October 2018 we celebrated the first Synod Sunday. In my [pastoral] letter that day I focused on the need to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to us through the life and experience of all the priests, deacons, religious and people of our Archdiocese. It is our duty to discern carefully together what the Spirit is saying to the Church in the Archdiocese and agree on common directions and actions for thefuture.’
So prayer is vitally important at this time in our Synod journey, especially on 15, 16 and 17 August. Archbishop Malcolm’s words last February can be at the heart of our praying: ‘In convoking the Synod I am calling us to be bold and creative in the task of rethinking the goals, structures, style and methods of evangelisation in our Archdiocesan community with its various parish and ecclesial, religious and social communities.’
Thank you for all that has taken place and please pray as we move to the next steps of Synod 2020.