How can we be a synodal Church in mission?

Synod trio

In October 2023, three Aotearoa New Zealanders were part of the Oceania contingent to attend the Synod General Assembly in Rome. Among them was Archbishop Paul Martin SM, the tenth bishop of Christchurch, who highlighted the role of prayer in the synod’s proceedings. “Stopping and praying or trying to recollect yourself is a powerful way of drawing the Spirit into the conversation.” he observed.

Synods have been part of the life of the Church since very early times. The meeting in October differed from previous synods in that the 360 participants included clergy, religious and laity. From the October gathering in Rome, a synthesis report was produced, identifying various themes. Each theme included convergences, matters for consideration and proposals. Dioceses were asked to reflect on the question, “How can we be a synodal Church in mission?” and to provide concrete actions that enable individuals and groups to make their unique contribution to the Church’s mission.

Direction was given from the synod that the focus of this stage of the discernment was to engage with existing groups. In our diocese groups have gathered to reflect on this question and the synthesis document. The fruits of these consultations will be sent to the New Zealand Bishops’ Conference to form part of the overall New Zealand document to be sent to Rome.

The synod is part of a three-year process that began in 2021 with our own diocese participating in the worldwide process of consultation. The synod will conclude after a second gathering in Rome from 2-27 October 2024. The fundamental element of the discernment process is one of respectful listening to one another. Those who have experienced this process of journey together, value the experience of listening to one another in an atmosphere of prayer.

Published in Inform Issue 140 - Lent 2024