By Fran Ruchalski
The local synod phase of the Catholic church’s Synodal Program 2021-2023 involves a popular effort of all members of the congregation to act with prayerful discernment and listening to God and others to improve our Church and bring our brothers and sisters who may feel they’ve been cast out back into the fold.
The fourth of the six Diocesan Synodality Discernment sessions was held at St. Madeleine Sophie parish in High Springs on Thursday, Jan. 20 with about 70 people in attendance.
The evening began in the sanctuary with some remarks from Bishop Felipe Estévez about the importance of the process in improving the life of the church for all and Erin McGeever, co-chair of the local program on how the process works, and a few minutes of individual prayer.
In the parish hall, the attendees were split into eight groups with a facilitator to direct the conversation and a scribe to record all that was said.
Each group began with a Prayer of Invocation to the Holy Spirit used in the Second Vatican Council. In embracing this synodal path of the Synod, this prayer invites the Holy Spirit to operate within those present so that they may be a community in sharing their thoughts.
The discussion centered on three areas: listening with an open mind and heart, sharing responsibility for the church’s common mission, and being a community receptive to change, formation, and ongoing learning. Each of the proposed questions then brought up other issues to discuss.
The goal is to move the church to be more inclusive of all the baptized so they’re active and able to participate in its mission. This includes giving a voice to the laity, women, young people, minorities, and those who experience poverty, marginalization, and social exclusion daily.
You have two more chances to personally take part in the synodal process: Thursday, Feb. 3 at 6:30 p.m. at Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Gainesville and Thursday, Feb. 24 at 6:30 p.m. at Assumption Catholic Church in Jacksonville.
After about 90 minutes of discussion, each participant was asked to share one word describing how they felt. Those words included:
But the most used term was Hopeful.
What will your one word be at the end of the discussion?
(Photos by St. Augustine Catholic/Fran Ruchalski)