From Joe Harrison (revised 17 December 2021)
On October 10th Pope Francis opened a two-year process of synodality. The aim is to consult with the whole Church including laity, religious and ordained in how it can become more inclusive of all sections and open in its governance. This is the first time that such a wide-ranging gathering of views from the whole Church has ever been undertaken.
This is to be a spiritual process grounded in prayer to the Holy Spirit for guidance. It is not a forum for complaints or a way in which to air narrow personal opinions.
In order to be genuine and credible it is imperative to take soundings from every section of the Church Body. This is to be completed in the two-year period from November 2021 -November 2023.
The initial phase is confined to each individual Diocese. In our case final results will be reported to Bishops Conference of England and Wales. This is targeted to be completed by April 2022. In order to fulfil this requirement Plymouth Diocese wishes to consult at Parish level in Advent with late January as the very latest reporting date.
What are we asked to reflect on?
There are ten primary themes which underpin the different aspects of an active and lived synodality. (Journeying together as members of the Church)
3. Speaking out
5.Coresponsibility in Mission
6. Dialogue in Church and Society
7. Dialogue with other Christians
8. Authority and Participation
10. Forming genuine synodality.
Our Diocese of Plymouth have suggested we focus on four generic areas that encompass many of the ten facets listed. They are:
Listen, Mission, Celebrate and Dream.
In each of these areas they have identified key questions as guidance to our discussions.
How do I listen to God? How do I listen to others?
How does our Parish listen to others? How does our Parish listen to God?
How do we as a Church listen to others? How do we as a Church listen to others outside of the Church?
What is my personal mission?
What is the mission of my Parish community?
What is the mission of the whole Church?
How do I celebrate the presence of God in His Word and in the Sacrements?
How does my Parish celebrate the Word and the Sacrements?
How does the wider Church celebrate journeying together?
What is God’s dream for me?
What is God’s dream for our Parish?
What is God’s dream for the wider Church/ whole world?
This is not a checklist of questions to be answered but prompts for our discernment and prayerful consideration.
In order to enable the Diocese to report the feedback from all the Parishes in April 2022 to the Bishop’s conference we need to complete our soundings during Advent and early January.
The remaining plan is to hold future meetings as follows:
Axminster at 9.45am after Mass on 19th December.
Lyme at 11.45 am after Mass on 19th December.
All gatherings to be held in Church within Covid guidelines.
Supplementary to this we are offering one last Zoom meeting in December. This will be on Tuesday 21st December at 2.30 pm. There is an open invitation to these gatherings to all parishioners from the three churches. Please contact Joe Harrison on 07566 225665 for the Zoom link or refer to the most recent newsletter. The future dates/times/ frequency of these gatherings will be adjusted according to demand and will be listed in the weekly newsletter and on the Parish website.
It is hoped to engage with as many of the faithful as possible in the process. Members can join one or more gatherings in any of the formats to suit needs.
It is possible to arrange documentary individual contributions by post for those who prefer this method. The significant information from all formats will be recorded totally anonymously by the attending Facilitator at gatherings.
At its heart this is a prayerful process where we respectfully listen to the Holy Spirit as he speaks through our fellow travellers.
We look forward to engaging with you on this exciting journey.
Please pray for the success of the Synod in our Parish.
The Parish Synod Facilitators:
Peter Porteous, Jane Godfrey, Monica Watts-Hunt and Joe Harrison.
Paperwork in support of synodial consultation process:
Listening Themes for Reflection
Mission Themes for Reflection
Celebrating Themes for Reflection
Dream Themes for Reflection