WINNIPEG — The Synod of the Archdiocese of Winnipeg is completing its second major phase as the work of the Focus Commissions comes to fruition with preliminary reports now available for comment on the Archdiocese of Winnipeg website.
The nine Focus Commissions were charged with putting into words the distillation of nearly 800 responses gathered from the faithful of the archdiocese at the 13 Listening Sessions held throughout the archdiocese last fall. Responses were also received online via the archdiocesan website.
Three questions were asked at the Listening Sessions: 1) What do you appreciate most about the church in the Archdiocese of Winnipeg; especially those things that help you grow in your faith and as a disciple of the Lord? 2) Where are we going? What is your vision for the archdiocese in the coming years? 3) What is our responsibility? What do you see as the three priority areas that the archdiocese should focus on? What would you like to accomplish in these areas?
The 10-page report on the Listening Sessions’ findings, created with the help of the Catholic Leadership Institute, can be found at www.archwinnipeg. ca.
From those findings priorities were identified that led to the creation of the Focus Commissions under the headings of: New Evangelization and Missionary Outreach; Catechetics and Faith Development; Indigenous People; Youth and Young Adults; Marriage and Family; Sacramental Preparation, Prayer and Devotional Life; Vocations and Leadership; Governance; and Social Outreach.
With six to eight people, named by Archbishop Richard Gagnon, on each commission, the groups produced preliminary reports that are open to the faithful for further opinion. The Focus Commission reports are available to read, download or print from the synod section of the Archdiocese of Winnipeg website.
Those without access to a printer are asked to contact their parishes for printed copies. Respondents are asked to send their opinions, comments and feedback by email to the Synod Preparatory Commission, care of: email@example.com by June 15. This second round of opinions will be gathered and forwarded to the appropriate Focus Commission, and taken into consideration in the creation of the final Focus Commission reports.
Those reports will form the basis of study for the synod’s next phase, the General Sessions, to begin in November. The General Sessions will bring together clergy and lay delegates from all parishes and communities of the archdiocese to discuss the issues raised by the Focus Commission reports. The General Sessions will be composed of members appointed by Archbishop Gagnon plus parishioners nominated from our 88 parishes and missions. These delegates will vote on the propositions presented to help determine the final priorities for the archbishop’s approval. The synod is to conclude on Pentecost Sunday May 20, 2018.
Each Focus Commission was led to by two co-chairs. Susan Cosens, a parishioner at St. John Vianney Parish in Teulon, Man., was a co-chair of the Focus Commission examining governance.
“I found the process to be an exercise in community building,” she said, “and we worked well together as a team. With the Holy Spirit active during our meetings, discussions were creative, productive and joyous. It was a rewarding experience for all of us.”
At the outset of the synod one year ago, the archbishop said the question that the Winnipeg synod is being called to answer is discipleship: “How are we to be disciples and how are we to live out our discipleship during these current and very challenging times?
“The word ‘synod’ means to walk together,” Gagnon said. “As we walk together and share our experiences, we can ask ourselves,: how well do we walk together? How are we doing in living out our faith today? What are the blessings that we see in our lives and what are the challenges we face? How well do we pass on the gift of faith? How do we worship together?
“A synod is an exercise in living our faith together. It is an experience of communion, of unity, of what is known as koinonia,” the archbishop said: “the communion among us that comes from our relationship with Christ.”