There are 10 days until our Pentecost Synod [2 – 4 June].
Before I share with you some of the thoughts I will be sharing with the synod participants in a letter I am addressing to them, there are two other things I want to say.
Firstly, THANK YOU. There have been many many people involved in the synod process to date, and I am extremely grateful to you all. The Archdiocesan Synod Planning Team have done magnificent work, I offer sincere thanks to them all. To parishioners in parish and pastoral areas I also say a heartfelt word of thanks – the way hundreds of people have participated in the process over several months has been inspiring. I am so grateful to you all for responding to the call I made in my pastoral letter last year when I said: “Whatever shape the archdiocese has under my leadership … I want us all to have a part in its making. That will mean you and I working together to explore and map a way ahead. Join me in the process of prayer and dialogue over the next several months with open hearts, open minds and open ears.”
I deeply appreciate the way so many people have worked together so that we can make our Church the best it possibly can be and respond as disciples “to flavour life with joy and scatter the darkness of fear.”
Secondly, please PRAY. Pope John Paul reminded us that no pastoral initiatives can be undertaken unless they are set in relation to prayer. We have been praying the Synod prayers for many months. I ask you to continue praying, and especially over Pentecost weekend as parish, pastoral area, chaplaincy and diocesan representatives gather in Synod. The cathedral will be open the entire weekend for people to come and pray as the synod is in process. I invite parish groups, organisations and individuals to make use of that time, to come to the cathedral at some stage over the weekend and pray that the Holy Spirit will “Guide our discussions and our decisions, that the salt and light we offer will help fulfil God’s plan for creation.”
In my letter to the synod participants I have said:
I have also invited the whole archdiocese to join in prayer for the success of the synod. Once again I ask you to pray for the wind and fire of a new Pentecost for our local Church. Please pray asking for the gift of the Spirit of God:
• to fill our hearts with peace,
• to flame us into a new fire for mission,
• to transform us into a people who are a freeing, healing presence in the world today,
• to give every one of us a passion for the Gospel, to inspire us to be people of prayer always,
• to encourage us to be salt and light for each other, for our parishes, schools, families and communities.
We will look at the topics of:
• Education and lifelong growth in faith,
• Ministry and local leadership,
• Social justice
• Liturgy, prayer and spirituality, and
• Youth and young adults.
All of these topics will be looked at in relationship to each other. I also ask you to reflect on all of these topics as a Church committed to the Tangata Whenua. Please remember in all that we do that we are in a bicultural partnership, and that this is always in a multicultural setting.
There are some things for which I have no authority to legislate; these are matters of faith and morals – decisions which belong to the universal Church. The discussions and interview process over the last few months have provided many occasions for listening with the ear of the heart to many concerns expressed throughout the archdiocese. Some of these cannot be resolved at the level of the local Church.
This Pentecost weekend will be about looking at what we are able to do together. Our time is short. As we prepare to engage in a process of prayer, dialogue and discernment, I remind you that we are looking at what we can do to meet the needs of the people in the archdiocese at this particular time. The task of the synod is not to develop a complete pastoral plan for the whole of the archdiocese, but to create a planning document which will include pastoral priorities for parishes, chaplaincies, agencies, departments and for me. Please remember as we do this the words of Pope John Paul II in his letter Novo Millennio Ineunte. He wrote,
It is not therefore a matter of inventing a ‘new programme’. The programme already exists: it is the plan found in the Gospel and the living tradition, it is the same as ever. Ultimately, it has its centre in Christ himself, who is to be known, loved and imitated, so that in him we may live the life of the Trinity, and with him transform history.’
I share with you all some of what I have written to the synod participants as I believe it is important for us all to understand the synod process which is vital for the future planning in the archdiocese. Once again, I thank you most sincerely and ask again for your prayerful support.
‘As salt, may we refresh and
the world you greatly love.
As light, may we shine in faithful witness to joy and
hope.’ Archbishop John Dew