Journeying Together: Reflections of the People of God
Please join us for the Listening Session:
“We are a Church Desiring Deeper Faith”
Thursday, March 30, 7:00-8:15 pm, Parish Hall
All are welcome. At a time when challenges are presented to the faith of the Church, it is helpful to listen to the comments from around the U.S. Come and add your voice.
A next Listening Session from the US Bishops Synod preparation document will be Thursday, April 20: “We are a Church Formed for Mission”
Each session is independent, so you can join us for just one or for any of the sessions. Please invite someone to join you. Please register below.
All are welcome. In addition to sharing information from the Bishops’ document, this session will allow time for personal sharing and prayerful reflection. Perhaps you know someone whose experience in the Church may have been hurtful or unwelcome. Please invite them to join you. Addressing and healing wounds calls for listening to each other with an open heart. Pope Francis reminds us that Lent is a special time for sharing each other’s wounds on that journey.
Sign up below:
Are we really connected to the Synod process? Does our participation in the process make a difference?
Yes, we truly are part of the process and we are connected to the global Synod. Over the past few weeks, SMM School principal Katie Walsh & Fr. Anthony Aarons participated in listening sessions involving people from across the United States & Canada. Their meeting was one of many providing continued input and feedback to the Vatican. The Vatican office had organized the international responses into a working document for the Continental stage which Katie & other participants used as the basis for their discussions. This Continental stage document uses the image from Isaiah 54, “Enlarge the space of your tent,” as a key to interpreting the direction and hope of the synodal process.
Katie commented that their meeting pointed out both the similarities and differences in various aspects of parish life in communities from other parts of North America. She was particularly struck by strong voices from various regions calling for greater inclusion in Catholic communities and for the engagement of all in spreading the Good News of the Gospel. Katie was enthusiastic and encouraged by her participation in this exchange.
Going forward, the process will continue with input and feedback leading up to the Synod meetings of Bishops from across the world in October 2023 and then again in October 2024.
At Christmas our attention turns to our relationships, our connections with each other. And we long to make them whole.
The Church, too, seeks to live in a way that enables us to journey together, to be connected to each other, and in particular to listen to each other.
Pope Francis has called the whole church to come together this year through a process of listening sessions to help prepare for the next world meeting of Bishops. Earlier this year our St. Margaret Mary parish joined with this world-wide effort and held our own listening sessions.
The Bishops of the United States assembled the reflections of over 700,000 American Catholics from this listening process into four themes, and from them we see four emerging ways of being Church today.
- We are a Church seeking healing
- We are a Church desiring deeper faith
- We are a Church formed for mission
- We are a Church open to the Spirit
Do these themes reflect any of the hopes and struggles that you find in your life? The church wants to listen to you! We will continue to seek ways to meet the vision that Pope Francis has for the Church and will continue sharing information with you.
We are called to walk together in faith and welcome all to become part of this journey.
See below for quotes from our parish synod listening sessions on the themes of A Church Seeking Healing and A Church Desiring Deeper Faith. Today we are sharing quotes from our parish synod listening sessions reflecting the Bishops’ themes that we are:
A Church Formed for Mission:
“Share our faith, even in small ways - let people know who you are, even without words.”
“Letting non-Catholics experience our Catholic faith. Challenging ourselves to be more openly Catholic by sharing our faith.”
“We are all journeying together and need to recognize everyone is on a different path. We need to welcome people with compassion.“
A Church Open to the Spirit:
“Participants were very excited that the Church would take on this listening process.”
“We are called by the Spirit to continually reach out to those who are 25 and younger...and build engagement with young parishioners. Otherwise the parish risks becoming less relevant.”
“Listening to the Holy Spirit requires finding quiet in the midst of all the noise of life, and especially moving away from being judgmental about others. Our prayer then becomes more and more a listening prayer.”
Last week we listed the themes identified in the Bishops’ National Synthesis of Listening Sessions. Ideas expressed during sessions at St. Margaret Mary were similar to the national experience. Today we share quotes from our parish community sessions corresponding with the first two national themes.
A Church Seeking Healing
“We need to listen to more young people and to people who have left the Church and what their experiences were that led to their leaving.”
“To whom does our particular Church need to listen? The people in the pews, and the people who have left the pews because of feeling judged or hurt by church authorities (divorce, sexual abuse, lack of inclusion/respect towards women and people of color).”
A Church Desiring Deeper Faith
“We are grateful to actively participate in the mission of the Church through retreats, family life, parish ministries, and faith sharing in our daily lives.”
“Provide a variety of spiritual resources (online, small group, individual). We need to support the many different pathways of our personal journeys.”
Next week we will share SMM reflections that parallel the other two themes from the US Bishops’ Synthesis.
We are continuing our conversation about Pope Francis’ invitation for all Catholics to join in the preparation for the World’s Synod of Bishops in 2024. As we described in last week’s bulletin, SMM parishioners participated in Listening Sessions as part of that invitation.
The National Conference of U.S. Bishops released a summary report from the 700,000 U.S. participants in a document they called The National Synthesis of the People of God of the United States*. We see a glimpse of the joys, hopes and wounds through four primary themes identified by the bishops. The themes indicate that we are:
- A Church Seeking Healing:Many people who have felt hurt by their experience within the church reveal a deep hunger for healing and belonging.
- A Church Desiring Deeper Faith:People share a longing to draw closer to God and to each other through scripture, prayer and the sacraments, especially the Eucharist.
- A Church Formed for Mission:A common hope is the desire for life-long spiritual formation as disciples.
- A Church Open to the Spirit: The journey forward depends on rediscovering and genuinely reintegrating the discipline of prayerful listening into local church life.
In the coming weeks, we will continue to share our own SMM reflections as well as further unpack the voices of our Church here in the United States.
*See entire National Synthesis at Synod 2021-2023 | USCCB