Synod on Synodality
The Synod in the Archdiocese of Boston
Over the next several years, the Church around the world will be participating in a process called the Synod on Synodality. The Holy Father will be meeting with Bishops from across the globe in 2023 to discuss ways of improving the process by which the church on all levels is open to hearing the voices of people from all walks of life.
That process will begin here in Boston now with asking as many people as possible to take a simple survey. The link to the survey can be found here: https://forms.office.com/r/aPadVsPFt9
Please distribute this survey as broadly as possible. Send it, along with this note, to your various mailing lists in your parishes and other ministries.
This survey is the first step. Other upcoming steps will be:
- An opening Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, on Saturday, November 27, at 4:30PM. The Mass will be broadcast on CatholicTV, as well being a live event.
- Discussions in the Presbyteral Council, Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, and Parish Pastoral Councils and Parish Finance Councils, using a set of questions which will be distributed soon.
- Focus groups in various ministries, religious communities, and demographic populations across the Archdiocese.
- Five regional sessions that will be open to the public.
- The collection of all of the feedback, and its compilation into a ten-page document which will be submitted to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in April of 2022.
- A closing liturgy at the Cathedral in late April of 2022.
In this process, we hope to be able to make some contribution to the global conversation on synodality. More importantly, we hope to improve the synodality of various local institutions here in the Archdiocese, as well as of the Archdiocese itself.
Please feel free to address any questions about the process to [email protected].
A Mass Celebrating the Initiation of the Synodal Way
Cardinal Seán O'Malley, OFM Cap. celebrated this special Advent Mass on November 27, 2021 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross at 4:30PM - it was broadcasted and live-streamed on CatholicTV & CatholicTVLIVE.com (rebroadcast on Sunday at 11am and 8pm).
Learn More about the Synod
To learn more about the Synod on Synodality, visit the official website.
Parish bulletin announcement
Over the coming months, Catholics from around the world will be participating in the Synod on Synodality.
What does that mean?
Here in Boston it means that we will be gathering, as parishes and as a diocese to pray together and to invite the Holy Spirit to help us to listen deeply to one another, and we will talk together about how best to do that.
So, for instance, a parish council may get together and ask “How can we as a parish council do a better job of letting the voices of all our parishioners be heard, even those who are not a part of an inner circle or who might be marginalized for whatever reason?”
The archdiocese and the church around the world will be engaging in the same sort of conversation. We pray that the Lord will open our hearts to Him and to all of our people.
Questions for Groups Participating in the Pre-Synodal Archdiocesan Phase of the Synod on Synodality
The following questions are a possible guideline for various communities who are participating in the Archdiocesan Phase of the Synod on Synodality. They should be seen as seeds for discussion, not as boundaries. Other questions can be found on pages 40-42 of the Vademecum document, available in English here: bit.ly/vademecumhandbook.
As a general guideline, it should be noted that this synod is about synodality itself. Its goal is not to discuss all of the issues in the Church, but rather to discuss how the Church listens to, and can listen better to, all her people and draws the voices of all into her prayer, her mission, and her decision-making process on every level.
We invite you to talk about these questions, or a subset of them, in your various groups. We are seeking feedback from groups, not from individuals. When your group has notes they want to submit, they can send them to [email protected].
Please send any feedback no later than July 15, 2022.
1. In our experience – within our parish or other community – who should have a voice? And who does in fact have a voice? How could we improve that? And how could the same thing happen in our Archdiocese and in the Church around the world?
a. How can the common person in our communities be better heard?
b. Who are the marginalized people in our communities, and how can they be better heard?
2. How well do we listen to people whose opinions are different from our own …
a. … in our conversations?
b. … in our families?
c. … in our parishes or other local communities?
d. … in our archdiocese?
e. … in the global Church?
f. How could we do all of that better?
3. How does our prayer – both individual prayer and at Mass and other liturgical gatherings (communal liturgy) – impact our ability to listen?
4. How connected do you feel to the core mission of the Church – making disciples for Jesus? Do you feel like you have been chosen for mission, equipped for that mission, and sent specifically out on that mission? In the course of that mission, do you feel like you have a group of fellow missionary disciples with whom to share your experiences? How could we improve that kind of interaction in the Church?
5. How does the Church (local/diocesan/global) support those who take part in her mission within the society and culture (parents, grandparents, educators, scientists, lawmakers, writers, artists, social workers, those who work with the poor, those who seek to protect the environment)? And how does she listen to them?
6. Listening often involves listening across borders. How well do the parishes or other local communities in your area work together and listen to one another? What is the involvement of various communities of religious men and women in your parish? Is there a dialogue with other faith communities who are not Catholic?
7. How could the decision-making process within your local community be improved? Is there room for a broader process? How can transparency be improved? Is prayerful discernment a part of the process?
Any questions about the process can be sent to [email protected].
The Holy Father is asking the Church to participate in a world-wide conversation culminating in the Synod of Bishops in 2023. The topic of the Synod is synodality.
The Synod document describes synodality this way:
“First and foremost, synodality denotes the particular style that qualifies the life and mission of the Church, expressing her nature as the People of God journeying together and gathering in assembly, summoned by the Lord Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Gospel. Synodality ought to be expressed in the Church’s ordinary way of living and working.”
“In this sense, synodality enables the entire People of God to walk forward together, listening to the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, to participate in the mission of the Church in the communion that Christ establishes between us.”
For the next several months, the Archdiocese of Boston will be engaging the questions of the Synod on our local level. The Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, the Presbyteral Council, the Central Ministries staff, various religious communities, and many other groups will be participating in small group gatherings to discuss the questions. There will also be several regional meetings. The core of the discussions, though, will take place on the parish level.
As a general guideline, it should be noted that this synod is about synodality itself. Its goal is not to discuss all the issues in the Church, but rather to discuss how the Church listens to, and can listen better to, all her people and draws the voices of all into her prayer, her mission, and her decision-making process on every level. In other words, while discussion on various issues in the Church may be appropriate at times, this is not that discussion. This discussion is about how voices are heard.
We recommend the following for parish discussions.
- Send the included Synod Questions document to your parish email list.
- Meet with your parish council and finance council (together perhaps) in a meeting dedicated to discussing the questions. They need not answer all of the questions – if there are one or two that particularly interest them, they can focus on those.
- Have an open meeting in your parish in which people break up into small groups to discuss one or two of the questions, and then report back to the larger group on their discussion.
- It is the hope that all of the discussions will happen in a context of prayer and be guided by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, whenever possible, begin the discussion sessions with a significant time of prayer, perhaps in front of the Blessed Sacrament.
- You could use the opening prayer found on the third page of the Vademecum document bit.ly/vademecumhandbook in your sessions.
- When all of your discussions are completed, choose someone to write a summary, and send it to [email protected]. The summary should be no more than 20 pages. The summary should not be just a pasting together of various notes of group discussions, but rather a real synthesis that highlights important points, and filters out both repetitions and comments that are not directed toward questions of synodality. Therefore, the person preparing the summary should be chosen carefully.
There will be sessions held in each region in January two which we will invite a couple of leaders from each parish to come and discuss how to hold the discussions on the parish level.
Later in the winter and early spring there will also be discussions in each region for a few people from each parish who are also attending parish sessions to join in an inter-parish discussion.
Registration links for both of these sessions will be sent to the pastors as soon as the dates are solidified.
Please note that while all of the feedback received from the parishes will become a part of the Archdiocesan record of the synod process, and will be discussed with the bishops, we only get to send on a total of 10 pages to the next step in the synod process, that is the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
We will not be soliciting individual responses to the Synod questions. All responses will need to be sent in from parish leaders. We ask that the person identified as the one sending in the response clearly indicate the parish or parishes from which the response is coming and give some sense of how many people participated in the process.
We ask that all responses be submitted by July 15, 2022.
Preparing for the Synod’s opening, we encouraged parish leaders to send a brief survey to their parishioners. To date we have received some 1900 responses to that survey, and those responses will be drawn into our Archdiocesan record of the synod as well. That survey is still open, and the link is here: https://forms.office.com/r/aPadVsPFt9