Participants at the recent Archdiocesan Pentecost Synod are being exhorted to keep the spirit of the synod alive by sharing the knowledge gained there as widely as possible. John Butterfield from the synod planning committee explains what has been happening since the synod took place on the first weekend of last month.
The first phase of the synod process culminated in the Pentecost weekend gathering, the outcome of which was a wealth of focused thinking in each of the six topic areas – so what now?
Archbishop John has appointed a small steering group to oversee the next steps. They start with the preparation of a planning document which will faithfully reflect the output of the synod weekend; the future statements and the propositions. This material will be accompanied by appropriate text on church teachings. The planning document is not a plan but the raw materials from which parishes, chaplaincies and agencies can develop their own plans. The document will contain guidance on how the material is to be used if it is to be most effective.
The future statements are the result of the collective wisdom of the synod and are the description of an agreed future to which we are all invited to work. The propositions represent ways in which that future may be achieved. Each parish will have its own unique strengths and situational factors; each will adopt and adapt the propositions to best create their plans so that they can, in their own way, be ‘salt and light together’.
Key to this next phase is to see individual pastoral plans as living documents, to inform and shape continuing activities, not simply an exercise to be done once and for all and left on a shelf. All those who participated in the synod weekend, in the build-up during parish conversations and in pastoral area gatherings, are asked to engage with the fruits of the synod deliberations and encourage their wise and active use. Everyone in our parishes, chaplaincies and agencies has a role to play in discerning what is appropriate for their situation and incorporate those elements into their long-term pastoral plans.
One crucial way to keep alive the spirit of the synod is to provide feedback on our own experiences and to share those insights with others. The Catholic Centre will act as a ‘clearing house’ for these ideas.
The central agencies and chaplaincies are already beginning to think about what the synod future statements and propositions mean for them and will ensure that their plans for the future reflect the relevant synod recommendations.
So what is the most useful thing that all of us can do in the meantime? – ensure that the knowledge gained by synod participants is shared as widely as possible and to keep the synod spirit alive by all means including, newsletter articles, parish gatherings and as permanent agenda items for parish pastoral councils.