Dear Parish Family,
About a month ago, Bishop Ed summoned all the priests and deacons of our Diocese for a two-day conference on wellness. During that time, we not only got to hear some excellent
presentations on managing stress, balancing our diets and practicing preventative health measures, but we also got a preview of what a Synod session feels like.
If you’re scratching your head at the mention of a strange word like Synod, that’s the term for coming together to listen to the experiences of others and share your own for the purpose of mutual understanding. All of us are invited to listen and share with our fellow Catholic neighbors at our local Adirondack Synod Session on Tue. June 28 at 6:30 PM at Our Lady of the Annunciation in Queensbury.
During the Synod we had as priests, we entered a large conference room with round tables
each with six chairs and were asked to take a seat at any free chair. Once the tables were full, we were told that we’d have time dedicated to responding to specific questions we’d be asked and that one of us would be asked to be the recorder who would capture the gist of what was said on notepaper. A second person was asked to be the reporter to share their table’s responses with the whole group.
We were instructed that we’d have 15 minutes per question and that everyone was
encouraged to share, but that we could “pass” on a particular question if we wished. We were also told that generous listening was the bedrock of this experience, so the one thing we couldn’t pass on was carefully listening to the experiences of the others at our table.
Once the instructions were given, we were asked the first question:
What is the greatest joy in the priesthood for you?
The timer was set for 15 minutes and each us was given a chance to share. The recorder took notes and then boiled them down to five central points that we all gave approval to.
Then we were asked the second question:
What is the greatest burden you feel as a priest?
Again, we each filled the 15 minutes with our sharing and then allowed the recorder to
summarize it all.
Finally, the last question:
What do you most need in order to be successful and happy as a priest going forward?
Once the last session was done, we were invited to go table by table and each table reporter
shared aloud the answers to the first question. The bishop sat and listened and digested it all. The same procedure was repeated for questions two and three. Finally, at the end, the
facilitator asked if anyone wanted to share a word, a phrase or a sentence that we would like the bishop to hear that expressed something important to us. I, among others, shared a
sentence and allowed the bishop to simply digest it. This simple format allowed the bishop and all of us to hear more in a short time than just about any other method I could imagine.
At our session on June 28, we will be asked to share and listen in response to these questions:
* What have been your experiences of church?
What have been your joys, hopes, and disappointments?
When have you felt connected? When have you felt disconnected?
* What might the church learn from your experiences?
What new dreams and surprising visions for the Church might God be inspiring?
* What actions can you take?
What actions should be taken by your parish or the diocese?
I hope you’ll join me for a memorable night of sharing as an integral member of the Catholic Church in our community.