This past Sunday, Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki formally announced the convocation of an Archdiocesan Synod to be held over the weekend of Pentecost in June, 2014. With broad participation from laity, religious, clergy and various representative bodies, the synod will help set pastoral priorities for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee for years to come. The last synod occurred in 1987, so think of how much has changed and happened in the life of our local church since then.
Some major preparatory events leading up to the 2014 Synod include:Archbishop Listecki issued his pastoral letter, “Who Do You Say That I Am?”– a theological reflection on the identity and nature of the church – this past February.
Prayer in preparation for the synod
O Lord, we accept your invitation to enter into the great mystery of your love and presence within your church. Through word and sacrament, you lead us into communion with you.
Written by Bishop Donald J. Hying
Local pastoral leadership, including pastors, deacons, lay ministers and parish council members, is reflecting on and discussing the pastoral letter this May and June.
This October, parishioners will gather to discuss the pastoral letter and begin to surface needs, priorities and goals for the future of our local church.
District meetings will synthesize and summarize the fruit of these parish discussions in early 2014, in preparation for the synod.
As you can see, this synod process will engage every member of the archdiocese in prayer, study, reflection and decision as we move forward in the exciting mission of proclaiming the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ.
When we ponder the convergence of the new evangelization, the Year of Faith with its focus on Vatican II and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the election of Pope Francis, with the initiatives, energies and activities occurring all over the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, the Holy Spirit is clearly at work.
Thousands of local Catholics are asking how they can contribute more effectively to the service of the Gospel and the growth of the church, how they can invite inactive Catholics back to the practice of the faith and how we can emerge stronger and better after Chapter 11.
The synod will serve us as an organized and sequential process to channel all of those questions, desires, hopes and energies into a pastoral plan that will focus the mission of the archdiocese for years to come. Each one of us is called to voice our deepest aspirations for the growth of the Gospel and the increase of faith.
Undoubtedly, we will be talking about how to spread and teach the Catholic faith, how to bolster Catholic education, the importance of youth ministry, how our efforts for charity, justice and peace can be more effective, how to raise up a greater quantity of qualified leaders and dozens of other vital issues that affect all of us. How exciting is that!
Now, we have all gone through experiences of brainstorming, processing and planning that, when all was said and done, accomplished very little. It may be tempting to think that this upcoming synod is just another example of the same old thing. I don’t think it will be.
The Holy Spirit is going to powerfully work through our reading, gathering, conversing and praying about the person of Jesus and the gift of his holy, amazing church. Out of those conversations will emerge ideas, priorities and hopes that will converge into a coherent vision for the future, fired and honed at the synod gathering next Pentecost. The fruits of this effort will be offered to the archbishop as the substance of a pastoral plan which he will promulgate and which all of us will implement on the archdiocesan and parish levels.
The prayerful and passionate hope of all who have been working hard for months to prepare for the synod is that this experience will transform, inspire, convert and energize the hundreds of thousands of Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee to deepen their relationship with the Lord and his church, strengthen their discipleship of service and stir up an evangelizing ardor to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ with greater love and conviction.
Is there any more worthy task for us as people of faith? Please pray to the Holy Spirit on a daily basis for the spiritual success of this great endeavor.