Week of October 17, 2021

A Note From Fr. Timothy

Church Synods

Bishop Donald Kettler has asked that all parishes in the Diocese of St. Cloud replace the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (what would normally have been this weekend) with Mass for a Council or Synod. Pope Francis has called for the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in October of 2023, and has laid out a two-year plan to prepare for that synod which is meant to involve the universal Church throughout the world. The first step of that process begins with a diocesan phase beginning this month and lasting to April 2022. The second step is continental and will run from September 2022 to March 2023.

As we begin our diocesan portion of that process this month, it is good for us as a diocese, under our bishop, to offer our prayers at Mass that the Holy Spirit might be present amongst the people and work in a special way to bring the light of truth and the Word of God to us here and throughout the world. To begin that process, it is probably helpful for us to understand what a synod is and what it means to participate in it.

The term “synod” comes from the Greek and simply means “meeting” or “the way together”. Think of it as meeting someone while walking on a journey and continuing on the way together discussing the needs of the day. In terms of the Church, an official “synod of bishops” is described in Canon Law as a group of bishops from various regions who meet together to foster unity between the pope and bishops, strengthen ecclesiastical discipline, assist and advise the pope in preserving and growing faith and morals, and to consider questions pertaining to the activity of the Church in the world (cf. canon 342). The synod scheduled for October 2023 will do all of those things, put perhaps has an emphasis on the last part concerning the activity of the Church in the world.

The theme of the synod is dedicated to the theme, “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission.” Because it is a synod discussing synods, you might see it referred to as a “synod on synodality.” Pope Francis wants to hear from the People of God, truly listen to them, and discern together the journey forward. To best meet the needs of the people. It makes sense to understand their various situations and experiences. It is also good to hear from them what has been and still is effective in fostering faith in their lives, or, conversely, what has not been effective or has even been harmful to them.

The diocesan phase of the preparation process is meant to focus on those experiences of the people. We have the opportunity to share with the pope and bishops our experience here in central Minnesota. At our Diocesan Ministry Day next Saturday, October 23rd at St. John’s University in Collegeville, there will be a gathering of people from throughout the diocese to meet and begin some of those discussion points. This is a unique opportunity to be involved in the life and activity of the Church in a new way, and we hope that people will be willing to participate and pray for its success. DMD is open to anyone and for more information or to register, you can go to the website: https://stcdio.org/2021-diocesan-ministry-day/

Fr. Timothy Gapinski