By Erin McGeever
As part of the local synodal process, Bishop Felipe Estévez and Catholic leadership gathered in small discernment groups on April 21 with leaders of other Christian denominations for prayer, fellowship and dialogue. This momentous event occurred at Marywood Retreat and Conference Center in St. Johns.
The small group conversations were rich and held great promise for the future as we strive to fulfill our mission as church. This mission is for all to be one, as described in the Letters of St. Paul. The three components of the synod: Communion, Participation, and Mission were evident in the gathering. The input that surfaced on the questions of listening, shared responsibility, and formation will be added to the 10-page story of our diocese that will be folded into a larger document compiled by the U.S Bishops and sent to Pope Francis.
Some very practical suggestions surfaced, and these will be added to our diocesan action plan. Key among these is the need to learn about each other and from one another. Fear and ignorance were listed as detriments to Communion, Participation, and Mission. These hurdles could be overcome by small group gatherings, like our synodal process groups, wherein local Christian churches share prayer, and fellowship, and continue the dialogue. Stay tuned for exciting developments from this gathering. The Holy Spirit is certainly at work in the Diocese of St. Augustine.
Erin McGeever and Father Clay Ludwig are co-chairs of the Diocesan Synodality Committee. To learn more about the Synod on Synodality and the local process, visit https://synod.dosafl.com.
Photos: Bishop Felipe Estévez of the Diocese of St. Augustine; Bishop Samuel Howard of the Episcopal Diocese of Florida; photos of small group discussions on synodality. Photos by Fran Ruchalski.