The word ‘synod’ evokes the image of ‘walking together on the way’. For the Church it is a time-honoured way of working out together the ‘navigation map’ for the Church at particular times. Synodality is about the whole People of God helping each other listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying to the Church. Pope Francis emphasises that this is not simply a matter of discussion as in a parliamentary debate. Rather it is primarily a prayerful spiritual time of communitarian discernment. It is about finding the best ways for every baptized person to fulfil the Church’s mission of proclaiming to the world, God’s love and salvation in Jesus Christ. In practical terms, what does this mean? Pope Francis has requested every parish in the world in the first half of 2022 to reflect on what it means to be Church, and all the issues of concern people have both now and for the future of the Church. This will be primarily a listening exercise for all the people of God as we all aim to discern on what matters for us as Church both now and for the next generation. The feedback from this listening process will be sent to the Diocese and then on to Rome and will be the main source of inspiration for all the Bishops and the Pope when they meet in 2023 for their Synod on the “Mission of the Church”. It is the hope that this process will begin a new dawn for the Church of the future.
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The Gathering will last about 90 minutes and will follow a similar format:
As individuals arrive they will be assigned to a small group where participants will share their personal reflections on two questions.
Roles and responsibilities of the group leader:
A group leader will have been previously assigned to each group. This leader will try to create a sense of welcome in the small group and manage the meeting ensuring
Reporting back to the diocese and process involved.
At the end of the gathering the meeting animators will collect all the notes of the meeting. These will be typed up, collated and then given to the parish. This feedback from the parishioners will be used by the Parish Teams and Parish Pastoral Councils to help with parish planning.
The animators will then synthesise the feedback into similar themes. This will form the basis of a report to the Archdioceses of Dublin where, along with similar reports from all parishes in the country, will feed into the next National Synod scheduled to take place within the next five years.
Additionally, the comments gathered from the Hartstown parish gatherings will be included in a document to be sent to Rome where they will be combined with responses worldwide and will feed into a Papal Synod scheduled for 2023.