Bishop Joseph Williams preaches at Holy Spirit in St. Paul at the closing Mass of the Archdiocesan Synod Assembly June 5.
DAVE HRBACEK | THE CATHOLIC SPIRIT
“They’re going to help create a new evangelization in this archdiocese,” Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Williams told parish leaders gathered June 24 at Guardian Angels in Oakdale for “Fueled by the Fire of Pentecost: We Held a Synod. Now What?” Several archdiocesan leaders, including Archbishop Bernard Hebda and Synod Assistant Director Father Joseph Bambenek, spoke at the event, which included Q&A, prayer and Mass.
Forming 12-member Synod Implementation Teams as a methodology “is not a program,” Bishop Williams said. Alluding to the Twelve Apostles, he added, “It’s the way of Christ. We have to be convinced that it works.
“We’re starting with a mustard seed, … the mustard seed of 12. That will then go out and invite more laborers, little by little,” he said.
The three-day Synod Assembly, held in St. Paul Pentecost weekend, was the culmination of a three-year process of discernment for the future of the archdiocese that began with large-scale Prayer and Listening Events, which helped lead to the Synod’s three focus areas: 1. Forming parishes that are in the service of evangelization, 2. Forming missionary disciples who know Jesus’ love and respond to his call, and 3. Forming youth and young adults in and for a Church that is always young.
In the fall of 2021, Catholics discussed those focus areas in a six-part, parish-based small-group series, which shaped how the focus areas were considered in the Synod Assembly. Following a daylong event with parish leaders in February or March, action ideas related to the focus areas were developed into 40 propositions that were discussed, discerned and voted on at the Synod Assembly. The results of the voting and written comments are expected to inform a pastoral letter Archbishop Hebda is writing and plans to release on or near the Feast of Christ the King Nov. 20. That letter will be followed by an action plan anticipated in early 2023.
Before the pastoral letter is released, the archdiocese plans to implement an Office of Synod Implementation led by Father Michael Becker and Deacon Joe Michalak; an Archdiocesan Synod Implementation Team to assist Parish Synod Implementation Teams; an advisory council to advise the bishops and the Office of Synod Implementation on pastoral and theological matters; and vicars for evangelization to provide encouragement and accountability to parishes as they implement the Synod.
Pastors are expected to create their Parish Synod Implementation Teams in collaboration with their pastoral council and staff. Those teams should include ex officio members such as parochial vicars, deacons, school principals, religious education directors and parish council delegates. The teams are also expected to include parishioners and staff “distinguished by their proven charism of evangelization and/or potential to draw others to Christ,” according to an infographic outlining the timeline for Synod implementation.
The creation of the archdiocesan Synod office, parish teams and other roles is designed to help the archdiocese bring about the Synod’s intended changes, said Bishop Williams, who served as the Synod executive committee chairman following his episcopal ordination in January. What the structure aims to avoid, he said, is the need for a group of people to gather 10 years from now to “dream the same dreams and have the same hungers” because the work of the 2022 Archdiocesan Synod never came to fruition.
Bishop Williams made clear that the archdiocesan and parish teams, which he described as part of an “apostolic structure,” are the “how” of Synod implementation. The “what” that these teams will implement will not be known until Archbishop Hebda releases the pastoral letter, he said. But, he said, the teams ensure “that once the archbishop publishes this document, we’re ready to go with it. And we’re ready to implement that not just from above, but from below, in the parishes with your teams.”
He expects Synod implementation to be as diverse as the archdiocese’s parishes.
“While we’re going to propose there’s a relative uniformity in the mythology, there’s going to be great diversity in the expression, and that comes from you, the parish you know and love, with the vision of your pastor and the leadership teams that you already have in place,” he said. “It’s going to be your vision, your dreams that allowed this method to bear fruit in your parishes.”
Tags: 2022 Archdiocesan Synod Assembly, Bishop Williams, Parish Synod Implementation Teams, Synod Assembly
Category: Local News
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