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Synod a pivotal time in local church

By James Buchok


WINNIPEG — The Archdiocese of Winnipeg Synod, the first in its 100-year history, begins with a series of six Listening Sessions Sept. 13 - Nov. 5, to gather the thoughts and opinions of the faithful of the archdiocese, including those not currently active in the church.

Archbishop Richard Gagnon, supported by synod staff, will attend each listening session and will ask participants to respond to three questions: What do you appreciate about the Catholic Church? What is your vision for the church’s future? What are the church’s greatest challenges?

Participants will have the choice of speaking openly or providing thoughts in writing at a Listening Session, or responses can be made in writing online on the Archdiocese of Winnipeg website beginning Sept. 13.

The six 90-minute sessions will take place: Sept. 13, 7 p.m. at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Winnipeg; Sept. 14, 7 p.m. at St. Augustine’s Parish in Brandon; Oct. 13, 7 p.m. at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Winnipeg; Oct. 15, 1 p.m. at St. Viator’s Parish in Dauphin; Oct. 19, 7 p.m. at St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Winnipeg; and Nov. 5, 10 a.m. at Christ the King Parish in Stonewall.

Four additional Listening Sessions are to be scheduled for clergy, youth and young adults, First Nations communities and ministers, and at Chez Nous inner-city drop-in centre in Winnipeg.

Following the Listening Sessions, the next phase of the synod will have all the responses gathered provided to a Focus Commission which will delve into specific areas based on the themes that emerge from the Listening Sessions. Over the winter, the Focus Commission will create reports outlining the current situation and making proposals for future directions. These reports will be distributed to Study Committees throughout the archdiocese for further feedback and will become working documents for the Synod General Sessions to be held between April and November 2017.

During the six General Sessions, delegates from parishes and communities across the archdiocese will discuss the issues raised by the Study Committees and Listening Sessions, plus any challenges or experiences from within their own communities. Delegates will vote on the topics presented to determine the final priorities that may be pursued.

From November 2017 to April 2018 an Implementation Commission will formulate final recommendations of priorities, measures for action and timelines in order for the archbishop to establish and authorize policies, guidelines and statutes enabling effective implementation of the synod’s findings. The synod will close on Pentecost Sunday, May 20, 2018.

“It is my fervent hope that the People of God in the archdiocese will fully participate in our synod process as a calling to renew our baptismal commitment to discipleship and mission,” writes Gagnon in a booklet introducing the synod.

“This is a pivotal time in the history of our local church, a time to see ourselves anew as established, anointed and sent as participants in the threefold ministry of Jesus Christ. Pope Francis reminds us that ‘The joy of evangelizing always arises from grateful remembrance . . . of the time Jesus touched our hearts’ (Evangelii Gaudium, n. 13). I ask for your continued prayers throughout our synod process of building our future together. Our cathedral, the mother church of our archdiocese, is dedicated to the Holy Name of Mary and so I entrust the guidance of our synod to Mary’s Holy Name, she who was and is, the first and greatest disciple.”

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