We must admit, though, that the call to review and renew our parishes has not yet sufficed to bring them nearer to people, to make them environments of living communion and participation, and to make them completely mission-oriented. Evangelii Gaudium, #28
There will be Evenings of Discernment hosted in each area of the diocese for all to gather in communion and participate in small group discussions based on the questions we will be provided by the Vatican.
As a fruit of these Evenings of Discernment, The Diocesan Steering Committee will formulate a document summarizing the findings of the discernment in the Diocese of St. Augustine. This will be sent to the Continental Phase where it will be combined with other diocesan discernments into a document representing North America for the 2023 Synod of Bishops in Rome.
What is Synodality? – “Precisely what that the Lord expects for the Church in the Third Millennium” – Pope Francis, letter on the 50th anniversary of the Synod of Bishops, October 17, 2015.
- “Journeying together – laity, pastors, and the Bishop of Rome”
- Greatest Example – Acts of the Apostles Chapter 15.
- Involves the prayerful discernment of the entire People of God
- Ancient principle of listening as a community to “what to the Spirit is saying to the Church” (Rev 2:7).
- It is the task of the pope in union with his brother bishops after prayer and consultation with the entire People of God, to discern a path forward. guided by the Holy Spirit.
What is unique about this Synod?
The Diocesan Phase allows for the entire People of God to be involved in the decision-making process of the Universal Church by listening to the Holy Spirit through each other on the specific questions provided by the Vatican.
In this way, it becomes possible to build communion amid disagreement, but this can only be achieved by those great persons who are willing to go beyond the surface of the conflict and to see others in their deepest dignity. Evangelii Gaudium 228
- Prayer cannot be stressed enough!
- Communion with God and with others.
- Listening to the Holy Spirit in one’s heart and then listening to Him speak through the voices of others.
- Sharing the fruits of prayer strengthens communion when it’s listened to by others.
- Prayerful listening is “more than simply hearing.”
- The attitude of humility. Everyone has something to learn.
Lay people are, put simply, the vast majority of the People of God. The minority – ordained ministers – are at their service – Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, 102.
- The participation of the laity will help “make pastoral decisions which correspond as closely as possible to God’s will.”
- Not always the same as public or majority opinion.
- Attend one of the Evenings of Discernment for small group discussion to Pray, Listen, Dialogue, Discern, and Advise.
- The prayerful convictions of the entire People of God will help form “practical conclusions” for the Continental and Universal Phases. This will ultimately bear fruit and enrich each local church.
“Mere administration” can no longer be enough. Throughout the world, let us be “permanently in a state of mission” – Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, 25.
- A formal teaching document will provide a universal plan of action centered on synodality to be implemented in each local church.
- Everyone (laity, pastors, Bishop of Rome) is called to “pastoral conversion.”
- A Church which listens can evangelize those on the peripheries of our communities, parishes, and dioceses.
- This helps form a culture of encounter becoming a more effective and credible witness to the truth of Christ in the Third Millennium.