Synod 2021 – 2023

This page has information about our Parish's work for the synod.

A synod is not just a simple gathering together of opinions of the faithful, leading to a report some time down the line. Nor is it a parliament or representative body, as in other denominations. It is a journeying together, not an event, and all are invited to participate through prayer, discussion and above all, listening to one another, for the entire time of the synod.

World Wide Synod called by Pope Francis takes place from 2021 to 2023

How will the synodal process work in Parishes in Clifton Diocese?

It is asked that small groups of people - perhaps up to 8 at a time, meet together with a facilitator, to pray, ponder and then to share their thoughts about the Parish, Wider community in which we live, Diocese, and global church. Meetings can be physical, or online and can consist of larger groups - in which case the meeting might well be divided into smaller breakout groups to allow for a freer and fuller sharing. Everyone, from all parts of our community including those not frequently attending church - is invited to these meetings.

Group meetings will start with prayer ideally in the presence of the blessed sacrament, then a time of sharing in which all present may speak uninterrupted for a few minutes. There will not be discussion at these meetings (there might well be at other times - but a synod is not a time for discussion). Meetings will then end with prayer - the prayer of the church appropriate to the time of day being suggested.

There are a number of questions designed to promote this thought process which are summarised below. The facilitators will collate the results, and gather them together in the Parish. This will result in a report to go on to the Diocesan discernment process.

In February, there will be a number of diocesan days for further prayer, reflection and sharing, which together with the documents provided by Parishes, will lead to the preparation of a diocesan document. It is hoped that these facilitated meetings and Diocesan days will continue the good work already done in the diocese through the 'People of Hope' process.

The image to the right, contains a link to the diocesan page where the papal documentation inviting us to participate in this synod can be found together with other resources.

Adsumus Prayer

Every session of the Second Vatican Council began with the prayer Adsumus Sancte Spiritus, the first word of the Latin original meaning, “We stand before You, Holy Spirit,” which has been historically used at Councils, Synods and other Church gatherings for hundreds of years, being attributed to Saint Isidore of Seville (c. 560 - 4 April 636). As we are called to embrace this synodal path of the Synod 2021-2023, this prayer invites the Holy Spirit to operate within us so that we may be a community and a people of grace. For the Synod 2021-2023, we propose to use this simplified version, so that any group or liturgical assembly can pray more easily.

We stand before You, Holy Spirit,
as we gather together in Your name.

With You alone to guide us,
make Yourself at home in our hearts;

Teach us the way we must go
and how we are to pursue it.

We are weak and sinful;
do not let us promote disorder.
Do not let ignorance lead us down the wrong path nor partiality influence our actions.

Let us find in You our unity
so that we may journey together to eternal life and not stray from the way of truth
and what is right.

All this we ask of You,
who are at work in every place and time,
in the communion of the Father and the Son, forever and ever. Amen.

Questions for meetings to consider

The fundamental question that guides this consultation of the People of God,  is the following:

A synodal Church, in announcing the Gospel, “journeys together:” How is this “journeying together” happening today in your particular Church? What steps does the Spirit invite us to take in order to grow in our “journeying together”?

The following table provides ten topics which each meeting might consider (but this is not an exclusive list). Each meeting does not need to address all of these! Facilitators will attempt to record the points made at each meeting within this framework, in order to simplify the process of Parish and later, diocesan collation of the discernment.


Ten topics that meetings might consider

In the Church and in society we are side by side on the same road. In our local Church, who are those who “walk together”? Who are those who seem further apart? How are we called to grow as companions? What groups or individuals are left on the margins?
Listening is the first step, but it requires an open mind and heart, without prejudice. How is God speaking to us through voices we sometimes ignore? How are the laity listened to, especially women and young people? What facilitates or inhibits our listening? How well do we listen to those on the peripheries? How is the contribution of consecrated men and women integrated? What are some limitations in our ability to listen, especially to those who have different views than our own? What space is there for the voice of minorities, especially people who experience poverty, marginalization, or social exclusion?
All are invited to speak with courage and parrhesia, that is, in freedom, truth, and charity. What enables or hinders speaking up courageously, candidly, and responsibly in our local Church and in society? When and how do we manage to say what is important to us? How does the relationship with the local media work (not only Catholic media)? Who speaks on behalf of the Christian community, and how are they chosen?
“Walking together” is only possible if it is based on communal listening to the Word and the celebration of the Eucharist. How do prayer and liturgical celebrations actually inspire and guide our common life and mission in our community? How do they inspire the most important decisions? How do we promote the active participation of all the faithful in the liturgy? What space is given to participating in the ministries of lector and acolyte?
Synodality is at the service of the mission of the Church, in which all members are called to participate. Since we are all missionary disciples, how is every baptised person called to participate in the mission of the Church? What hinders the baptised from being active in mission? What areas of mission are we neglecting? How does the community support its members who serve society in various ways (social and political involvement, scientific research, education, promoting social justice, protecting human rights, caring for the environment, etc.)? How does the Church help these members to live out their service to society in a missionary way? How is discernment about missionary choices made and by whom?
Dialogue requires perseverance and patience, but it also enables mutual understanding. To what extent do diverse peoples in our community come together for dialogue? What are the places and means of dialogue within our local Church? How do we promote collaboration with neighbouring dioceses, religious communities in the area, lay associations and movements, etc.? How are divergences of vision, or conflicts and difficulties addressed? What particular issues in the Church and society do we need to pay more attention to? What experiences of dialogue and collaboration do we have with believers of other religions and with those who have no religious affiliation? How does the Church dialogue with and learn from other sectors of society: the spheres of politics, economics, culture, civil society, and people who live in poverty?
The dialogue between Christians of different confessions, united by one baptism, has a special place in the synodal journey. What relationships does our Church community have with members of other Christian traditions and denominations? What do we share and how do we journey together? What fruits have we drawn from walking together? What are the difficulties? How can we take the next step in walking forward with each other?
A synodal church is a participatory and co-responsible Church. How does our Church community identify the goals to be pursued, the way to reach them, and the steps to be taken? How is authority or governance exercised within our local Church? How are teamwork and co-responsibility put into practice? How are evaluations conducted and by whom? How are lay ministries and the responsibility of lay people promoted? Have we had fruitful experiences of synodality on a local level? How do synodal bodies function at the level of the local Church (Pastoral Councils in parishes and dioceses, Presbyteral Council, etc.)? How can we foster a more synodal approach in our participation and leadership?
In a synodal style we make decisions through discernment of what the Holy Spirit is saying through our whole community. What methods and processes do we use in decision-making? How can they be improved? How do we promote participation in decision-making within hierarchical structures? Do our decision- making methods help us to listen to the whole People of God? What is the relationship between consultation and decision-making, and how do we put these into practice? What tools and procedures do we use to promote transparency and accountability? How can we grow in communal spiritual discernment?
Synodality entails receptivity to change, formation, and on-going learning. How does our church community form people to be more capable of “walking together,” listening to one another, participating in mission, and engaging in dialogue? What formation is offered to foster discernment and the exercise of authority in a synodal way?