Bishop Toal has asked Father Tom Magill to co-ordinate the Diocesan phase of the Synod in the Diocese of Motherwell.
Father Magill is parish priest of St Athanasius' Carluke and Vicar Episcopal of Mission and Evangelisation in the Diocese of Motherwell.
What is Synodality?
The word comes from the two Greek words syn and hodos which mean journeying together. Synods have met since the earliest Christian times to consider new issues facing the Church. They were necessary since the Lord did not leave a detailed blueprint for the Church; rather, he imparted the Holy Spirit with the assurance that through the Spirit the Church would be led into all truth. Synods are characterised by prayer, listening, and discernment, to hear this voice of the Holy Spirit revealing the will of God for the Church. Over time, Synods became restricted to bishops and other Church leaders. Pope Francis now invites all the baptised to have their voices heard during this synodal process which will culminate with the Synod of Bishops in 2023. Pope Francis further hopes that this synodal experience will create a fresh way of being and working as Church.
The objective of the current Synod is to listen, as the entire People of God, to what the Holy Spirit is saying to the Church. We do so by listening together to the Word of God in Scripture and the living Tradition of the Church, and then by listening to one another, and especially to those at the margins, discerning the signs of the times. In fact, the whole Synodal Process aims at fostering a lived experience of discernment, participation, and coresponsibility, where a diversity of gifts is brought together for the Church’s mission in the world. Synod Vademecum 1.3
The heart of the synodal experience is listening to God through listening to one another, inspired by the Word of God. We listen to each other in order to better hear the voice of Holy Spirit speaking in our world today. Synod Vademecum 4.1
The Fundamendtal questions we are asked?
How is our “journeying together” as the Church happening today in your parish/community? What steps does the Spirit invite us to take in order to grow in our “journeying together”?
In responding to this question, you are invited to: Recall your experiences:
• What experiences of your local Church – including reflecting on the time of the pandemic – does this question call to mind? Re-read these experiences in greater depth:
• What has the experience taught us about what it means to be Church? “When we say ‘our Church’, who is part of it?” How does your particular Church ensure you are part of the ‘journey’? Who is missing?
• What would you wish to celebrate about how your parish/community lives its mission?
• What areas of mission are we neglecting? Gather the fruits to share:
• What might the Holy Spirit be saying to us?
• What steps might the Spirit be inviting us to take in order to make our communities more welcoming, inclusive and missionary?
Key words for the synodal process
Communion: The communion we share finds its deepest roots in the love and unity of the Trinity. We all have a role to play in discerning and living out God’s call for his people.
Participation: In a synodal Church the whole community, in the free and rich diversity of its members, is called together to pray, listen, analyse, dialogue, discern and offer advice on making pastoral decisions which correspond as closely as possible to God's will.
Mission: The Church exists to evangelize. We can never be centred on ourselves. Our mission is to witness to the love of God in the midst of the whole human family.
The Synodal Process is first and foremost a spiritual process. It is not a mechanical data gathering exercise or a series of meetings and debates. Synodal listening is oriented towards discernment. It requires us to learn and exercise the art of personal and communal discernment. We listen to each other, to our faith tradition, and to the signs of the times in order to discern what God is saying to all of us. Pope Francis characterizes the two interrelated goals of this process of listening: “to listen to God, so that with him we may hear the cry of his people; to listen to his people until we are in harmony with the will to which God calls us.”
Synod Vademecum 2.2
Ten Themes To Explore
To enable us to respond fully to the fundamental question, the Holy See suggest ten themes to explore.
1. Companions on the journey
3. Speaking out
5. Sharing Responsibility for our Common Mission
6. Dialogue in Church and Society
8. Authority and Participation
9. Discerning and Deciding
10. Forming ourselves in Synodality
Basic Attitudes for the Synodal Process
Prayer: Synodality is a spiritual experience rooted in prayer. It is not a round-table discussion but rather a way of being Church which comes from prayer and is led by prayer.
Attentive Listening: We pay deep attention to the person speaking, welcoming without judgment what is being said. Awareness of the presence of the Holy Spirit allows us to sit in silence. We listen with humility, patience and a readiness to learn.
Speaking from the Heart: We speak from our personal experience, paying attention to our feelings. We avoid generalised statements and the temptation to apportion blame. We offer our words as a gift to the group and do not seek to dominate or manipulate. We do not say anything which could be heard as hateful or belittling of others.
Sunday 17th October
Bishop Toal opens the Synod in our diocese with the celebration of Mass
Training in the synodal process for parish representatives. Meeting of diocesan clergy for training and
Meetings in all parishes for the discernment process. Collated reports to be returned by 1st April
Parish reports collated into one diocesan report
Diocesan report sent to all priests and parish contact persons for review and amendments
Diocesan Pre-Synodal Gathering for the presentation of the diocesan report to the bishop
Presentation of the Diocesan Report to the Bishops’ Conference which will then bring together all the diocesan reports into one document. Conference report to be delivered by August 15th