The Synod on Synodality
A synod is an assembly of bishops gathering to discuss some specific subjects. The discussion is aimed at assisting the Pope to govern and lead the universal Church. The modern Synod of Bishops was begun in 1965 shortly after the Second Vatican Council by Pope St. Paul VI. That synod was aimed at responding to and implementing the deliberations of Vatican II documents. It also was aimed at keeping alive and strengthening the spirit of collegiality fostered during the Vatican II Council’s sessions.
Since his election in 2013, Pope Francis has convoked synods on the themes of “Pastoral Challenge of the Family in the Context of Evangelization” (2014); “Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment” (2018); “The Church in the Pan-Amazon Region” (2019); and “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission” (2021-2023). Pope Francis has made it abundantly clear that the Synod on Synodality will be characterized by listening, prayer, discernment, learning, teaching, fraternal collaboration, and journeying together among others.
Many of the pre-synodal meetings, including preparatory working documents and venues, have been accomplished so far by the Diocesan Synodality Steering Committee to ensure a huge success at parish/deanery and diocesan levels. It is a synod that is divided into three major phases to include the diocesan, continental and universal levels that will take place in Rome in 2023. These phases could be described as a “bottom-up” approach to the Synod by Pope Francis, in the sense that the deliberations begin at the grassroots with listening sessions at local parishes or deaneries across every diocese in the world. The approach gives everyone (clergy, religious and laity) the opportunity to contribute to the conversations.
Our own diocesan phase begins on this, the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 17, 2021, with the Eucharistic celebration at St. Joseph’s Church by Bishop Estévez. All are invited to be part of this unique celebration. Personally, I will have an opportunity to participate in two places: one in St. Augustine and the other in Ikot Ekpene, my home diocese in Nigeria, where I will be for a month from October 21 to November 21 for my first vacation since Covid-19. I request your prayers for a safe and rewarding trip.