In October, parish leaders from throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee will gather to take stock of the last seven years since the 2014 Archdiocesan Synod, reflecting on the implementation of the priorities identified by the Synod and looking boldly toward the future of the church in southeastern Wisconsin.
“Church On a Mission: The Synod Calls Us Forward,” will be held from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 23, at Mary Mother of the Church Pastoral Center in St. Francis. All members of parish leadership, including clergy, parish staff, pastoral council members and ministry leaders, are invited to take part.
Archbishop Jerome Listecki delivers the homily at a special mass where the Synodol Decree is issued and signed at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Milwaukee, WI September 14, 2014.
“This day is a chance to celebrate everything that has happened since the Synod,” said Susan McNeil, director of the Office for Lay Ministry at the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, who noted that the 2014 Synod was “more than a meeting — it was calling forth the Holy Spirit to help us discern our way forward.”
The Synod was held on Pentecost weekend in 2014 and included hundreds of delegates from parishes and institutions all over the archdiocese. Ahead of the Synod, feedback from 60,000 participants at parish and regional listening sessions was compiled to direct discussion during the weekend, and delegates ultimately voted to identify eight priorities for the future of the Church in Milwaukee: liturgy, cultural diversity, evangelization, formation, Catholic social teaching, marriage and family, stewardship and leadership.
“In my own personal estimation, we are a better archdiocese because of this Synod,” said Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki in an interview with the Catholic Herald in December 2020. “We established priorities; we have a vision; we have a sense of identity, of who we are.”
An event to mark the anniversary of the Synod was originally planned in 2020 but was postponed twice due to COVID-19.
The program on Oct. 23 will begin with Mass, followed by a keynote address in which the archbishop will discuss both the implementation of the Synod and the final years of his episcopacy (he is required by canon law to submit his letter of resignation in three years when he reaches age 75).
Bishop Donald J. Hying, former Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and currently the Bishop of the Diocese of Madison, will then give a talk that explores “what it means to be a mission-driven Church,” said McNeil.
“So often our churches are driven by the day-to-day — keeping the lights on and keeping the plates spinning and the programs going. But what does it mean to be truly mission-driven and focused on why we are here?” she said.
The morning will also include talks from a number of parish representatives who will address the impact the synod has had on their faith communities, and will conclude with an address from Archdiocesan Chief Operating Officer Brad Berghouse, who will discuss the priorities of the next few years and “make some exciting announcements,” said McNeil.
All programming for the day will be simultaneously translated in Spanish, and there will be opportunities for multicultural prayer and worship.
Ultimately, it will be a morning both of reflection on the past and anticipation for the future, said McNeil.
“A phrase the archbishop has used often is his desire to ‘move the needle’ in Milwaukee. He’s very concerned about being mission-driven and how we are moving to help proclaim Jesus Christ and draw people into the sacramental life of the Church,” she said.
The needle was certainly moved by the 2014 synod, she added, and it is important to celebrate that.
“The 60,000 people who took part in listening sessions in 2013 and 2014 leading up to the synod — it’s important for them to know we followed through on the things they told us,” she said. “This has literally been propelling our mission for seven years. It never went on a shelf.”
For a full schedule of the day’s events and to register, visit archmil.org/About-us/Synod/Synod-Anniversary-Event.htm.