To commemorate the beginning of our Diocese's Synodal Process a special Eucharist celebration was presided by our Bishop Msgr Daniel Jodoin on Sunday, October 17 at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Bathurst.
Here is Msgr Jodoin's Homily for the opening of the diocesan phase of the Synod on Synodality (Cathedral, 17 October 2021)
You probably remember the episode of the disciples of Emmaus: "On the same day, two disciples were on their way to a village called Emmaus, a two-hour walk from Jerusalem, and they were talking to each other about everything that had happened. Now, while they were talking and wondering, Jesus himself approached and walked with them... Later, after recognizing Christ at the breaking of bread, they said to each other, "Weren’t our hearts burning in us, as He spoke to us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us."
Like the disciples of Emmaus, we are on the move. We are the People of God on our way to the Father, a people of pilgrims, a people of missionaries. As full members of the Church of Christ through our baptism and confirmation, we are all called to walk together, united to one another while bringing our gifts, our talents and above all our hearts. This is what synodality means.
Last Sunday, Pope Francis solemnly initiated a synodal process that will conclude in Rome in 2023. This synodal process comprises various stages: diocesan, continental and universal. For us, the diocesan stage begins today. Thus, in the coming months, we will be invited to come together not only to listen, discuss and reflect on what it means to "walk together with the Lord",but above all to "live this synodality" and to adopt more and more this style and way of life for the years to come.
All will then be called to contribute: priests, deacons, the lay faithful, men and women religious, consecrated persons, movements and prayer groups, people who are very involved in the Church as well as those who are less so, the young and the elderly, not to mention the poorest, the distant and even members of other religious traditions and non-believers.
A synodal Church permits us as People of God to advance together on the path of the Gospel by first listening to the Holy Spirit, to the Word of God in scripture and to the living Tradition of the Church; this is to be followed by listening to everyone, especially those on the margins, on the peripheries, often the excluded and the forgotten; all of this listening and sharing making it possible to discern together the signs of the times and to promote participation in a co-responsibility where all are invited in the service of the mission that Christ has entrusted to us. This certainly calls for a certain personal and community conversion on our part to see the Church and her journey as the Lord desires.
The theme of this Synod is: "For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission". Communion, because Christ came to put us in communion in the Spirit as brothers and sisters and with God his Father. Communion with the Trinity but also communion with the human family that surrounds us. Mission, because the Church exists only to carry out the mission that Christ has entrusted to us: either to evangelize, to bring the good news of the Gospel to all nations, to present Christ to them, to give birth, to grow and celebrate our faith. Then this communion and this mission in turn call for the participation of all (laity, consecrated and ordained) according to the gifts received from the Holy Spirit, because no one should be sidelined or feel excluded. All members of the community are called to pray, listen, discern, and give their opinion so that pastoral decisions correspond to God's will for his Church.
Thus, in the coming days, we will ask ourselves the following fundamental question: "How does this 'journey together' take place today at different levels (from the local to the universal level), allowing the Church to proclaim the Gospel? And what steps does the Spirit invite us to take to grow as a synodal Church? »
As Pope Francis mentioned last Sunday in his homily, this synodal process will be an opportunity for us to make meaningful encounters that will transform us and to live moments of listening with the heart (and not only with the ears) thus welcoming the experience of the other with openness as Jesus did in his time. Eventually, this process will help us discern God's will by letting ourselves be guided by the Holy Spirit.
In his opening address, Pope Francis was careful to add that this synodal process must be lived as a time of grace that is given to us in order to become more of a synodal Church: that is, an open place where everyone feels at home and can participate; a Church of listening by taking a break from our current activities to be better at listening to others and to God in particular through worship and prayer; and a Church of closeness as Christ has been and continues to be with us. For God's style is closeness, compassion, and tenderness: "If we do not arrive at this Church of closeness with attitudes of compassion and tenderness, we will not be the Church of the Lord."
May these coming months be for us a time when it will be good to walk together towards the Father, to become more missionary pilgrims in love with Christ and his Gospel, letting ourselves be inspired by the Holy Spirit on the new paths he will show us. May we, at the end of this synodal process, repeat as the disciples of Emmaus did: "Weren’t our hearts burning in us, as it spoke to us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us". AMEN