WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

Synod ’17 Entrusted to the Prayers of Mary

WelCom October 2017:

“The world in which we live, and which we are called to love and serve, even with its contradictions, demands that the Church strengthen cooperation in all areas of her mission. It is precisely this path of synodality which God expects of the Church of the third millennium.” – Pope Francis

A Church ‘fit for purpose’

Synodal: “a local or special ecclesiastical council, especially of a diocese, formally convened to discuss ecclesiastical affairs. Synodal, (rare).”

Synodality: “the practical expression of participation of the local Church in the governance of the universal Church, through deliberative bodies.”

Cardinal John Dew

“Plead for the Church in Oceania
that she may have the strength
to follow faithfully the way of Jesus Christ,
to tell courageously the truth of Jesus Christ,
to live joyfully the life of Jesus Christ.
O Help of Christian protect us!
Bright Star of the Sea guide us!
Our Lady of Peace, pray for us!”

Cardinal John Dew.

That prayer was very much in my mind over the Synod weekend, 15–17 September, of the Archdiocese of Wellington. The formal part of the Synod began on Friday 15 September, the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. I had already published the results of the consultation process in the Synod Members’ Booklet on the Solemnity of the Assumption, 15 August this year, and I had formally convoked the Synod for the Archdiocese on the Feast Day of the Archdiocese last year, 8 December, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. There was no doubt this Synod had been entrusted to the prayers of Mary.

In 2015, at the second session of the worldwide Synod on the Family, Pope Francis, speaking on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the establishment of the Synods in Rome, said:

“From the beginning of my ministry as Bishop of Rome, I sought to entrust the Synod, which is one of the most precious legacies of the Second Vatican Council. We must continue along this path. The world in which we live, and which we are called to love and serve, even with its contradictions, demands that the Church strengthen cooperation in all areas of her mission. It is precisely this path of synodality which God expects of the Church of the third millennium.”

I was therefore very pleased to be able to convoke the sixth Synod of the Archdiocese so that all of us together could “strengthen cooperation in all areas of her (the Church’s) mission”. We chose to do that by listening prayerfully to what the Spirit of God was saying to us, and by listening prayerfully and respectfully to one another. I was delighted over the weekend to hear so many Synod participants saying how much they appreciated the ‘discernment process’ and how they wanted to use this process in other ways in parishes, schools and colleges. I believe we have been truly blessed in this diocese to have used this process, and for the Synod to have made 96 recommendations to me. Those recommendations will now be reflected on, prayed with, and discerned even further as I look at making pastoral plans for the future.

The Synod opened on the Friday evening with a message from Pope Francis. I share that with you again as it is an important message to
us all as we respond to the call ‘Go, you are sent’. It helps us to realise and be inspired for the mission which is ours.

Message from Pope Francis for Synod ‘17

“The Holy Father was pleased to learn that the Synod of the Archdiocese of Wellington will be held from 15‒17 September 2017, and he asks you kindly convey his greeting and good wishes to all assembled for this significant ecclesial event. His Holiness prays that the Synod will encourage all the faithful to face the opportunities and challenges of the present moment through a renewed encounter with Christ and the saving message of the Gospel. For ‘whenever we make the effort to return to the source and to receive the original freshness of the Gospel, new venues arise, new paths of creativity open up, with different forms of expression, more eloquent signs and words with new meaning for today’s world’ (Evangelii Gaudium, 11). So too Pope Francis asks those taking part in the Synod to listen attentively to one another in reading the signs of the times, to that, in prayer, they may discern God’s holy will and be authentic missionary disciples. With these sentiments, the Holy Father commends the Synodal process to the maternal protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and gladly imparts his Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of peace and joy in the Lord.”

There is no doubt in my mind that the Holy Father’s prayers and blessings were with us over the many months of build up to the Synod and over the weekend itself. The weekend was a great blessing and has given hope and direction to the Archdiocese. I express my deep gratitude all who participated, all who planned, all who prayed. I am sure that all the hard work of the Synod will enable us to be ‘authentic missionary disciples’.

John A. Cardinal Dew, Archbishop of Wellington.

Go, you are sent…

At the conclusion of the Synod Mass, celebrated at the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Sacred Heart on Sunday 17 September, Cardinal John Dew thanked all participants and recited this prayer.

Go, you are sent…

Our Synod is over,
and now the work begins…

“Go, you are sent:
to live your life gratefully,
to give God thanks always.

Go, you are sent:
to do your job well.

Go, you are sent:
to enjoy this life’s pleasures and promises.
Yes, and even more.

Go, you are sent:
to heal the earth of polluted
waters and poisoned skies.

Go, you are sent:
to nurture and protect life,
from conception to natural death.

Go, you are sent:
to welcome the immigrant,
to embrace the foreigner.

Go, you are sent:
to forgive the one who has wronged you and to seek forgiveness from
those you have wronged.

Go, you are sent:
to love, and to love some more.

Go, you are sent. You are sent. You are sent.
Thanks be to God.”

Annette Scullion

Pope Francis’ desire is that we have a synodal Church throughout the world and that we advance along the path of a pastoral and missionary conversion, which cannot leave things as they presently are. Cardinal John Dew called a Synod for the Archdiocese to help shape and lead its future direction for coming years.

Over 300 participants from parishes, schools, religious orders and Archdiocesan bodies gathered in Wellington for the Synod ’17 weekend, 15 to 17 September 2017. They met at Sacred Heart Cathedral, Sacred Heart Primary School, St Mary’s College and the Catholic Centre. There were 11 Synod topics for the participants to provide recommendations to Cardinal John. The topics had been decided through an Archdiocesan-wide consultation process earlier this year.

The Synod opened with Vespers at the Cathedral on Friday evening, which included a mihi whakatau, reading in te reo Māori, and music from the Cathedral choir. On Saturday and Sunday young people prepared and presented the opening Liturgies for each day.

Throughout the weekend, participants rotated in groups to listen, reflect and discern the 11 topics. By the end of the Synod weekend they had presented over 1200 resolutions, which were summarised to recommendations and presented to Cardinal John. After considering the recommendations Cardinal John will promulgate his findings. These are expected to be delivered to the Archdiocese over coming weeks.

A Mass was concelebrated on Sunday afternoon to conclude the Synod. Cardinal John thanked everyone for their hard work of listening, sharing, reflecting and putting the recommendations together.

Cardinal John said, ‘I bless these proposals, the fruit of your very hard work. They are before the altar for this Mass, they will be prayed over, reflected on and incorporated into the mission which is ours. It is only when we experience the power of the Gospel, that we can show it to others and influence others with lives of goodness, kindness, mercy, justice, forgiveness. We do have great power to affect the world and others as Jesus did. Sent out with God’s power and with God’s grace we will always find there are people waiting expectantly for us. We are unbelievably privileged to take Christ to them. Know too that as we serve others, we too will be touched by the power of God. Blessed and touched by the goodness of God.’

Challenge for Change – participants gather with Cardinal John Dew outside Sacred Heart Cathedral, during the Synod ‘17 weekend in Wellington. Photo: Annette Scullion