ARCHDIOCESAN SYNOD RENEWAL THEME: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
The Synod of our Archdiocese is an opportunity for representatives of parish leadership to come together to reflect as a Catholic community on our relationship with God, with one another, and with our mission in service to the larger community. It requires of leadership discernment, purification and reform (Francis, Evangelium Gaudium (EG) 33) in an honest effort to assess our renewal, and in the spirit of Vatican II, to rekindle our missionary zeal. If previous efforts of renewal fell short, new efforts must be considered which include both clergy and laity. Only together will our witness be effective.
Pope Francis proposes a model of church which is not content with ‘things as we have always done them’, but which is ‘bold and creative …in rethinking goals, structures, styles and methods of evangelisation’ (EG 33), a church which is ‘out on the streets…rather than clinging to its own security’ (EG 49), unafraid of change and renewal, responsible and accountable.
To that end we consider our topic of RENEWAL in the following four areas:
1. WELCOMING AND HEALING DIVISIONS:
Jesus is our model for the Christian life. His concern for the marginalised and outcast overturned the expectations of his traditions. In our attention and welcoming outreach to all who are in any way ‘other’ (race, economic strata, religious belief, alienated believers, gender, migrants) we are ourselves renewed.
2. SPIRITUAL RENEWAL:
The spiritual resources of our tradition are many, both for the individual and the community in their spiritual quest. Fostering the spiritual life of the community is a prime responsibility of the parish leadership. Without prayer and the deepening of the relationship of ‘the vine and the branches’, neither ‘shoots nor fruits’ can be expected. There are multiple resources and structures available, including programmes such as Alpha, Renew, Why Catholic, retreats and spiritual direction, Hearts on Fire and Prayer Guide Training, Charismatic Renewal, Contemplative Outreach, Third Orders and Associates, etc. Attention to spiritual
deepening should concern each parish or diocesan organization. The spiritual growth and desires of the leaders themselves act as a leaven to the entire parish community.
3. FORMATION OF THE FAITHFUL:
Hearing the Voice of the Church: Without a personal knowledge of and relationship with Jesus, members of the community remain lukewarm in their participation and practice.
Engagement with the scriptures, the living word of God, can bring people into such a relationship, which is the basis of our teaching, liturgical practice and ministry. There are multiple ways of making the scripture more available to Catholics today for study and prayer individually and in groups.
Scripture is foundational for a more mature understanding of our beliefs.
4. LITURGICAL CELEBRATION:
The manner in which our liturgies are enacted has the potential to engage- or not- the life, faith and imagination of the faithful. Well planned and executed liturgical celebrations can deepen our understanding of faith and draw us more deeply into its mysteries. It’s weekly and seasonal rhythms, its initiatory rites, even its funeral services can deepen our love of Christ and form us as more attentive and compassionate members of his Body. Those who serve the liturgy as its ministers must be well prepared to render this service to the entire community. Furthering such preparation is an ongoing responsibility both at the level of the diocese and of the local parish.
The Southern Cross website – remember to get your copy after Mass!