Synod 2021 – 2023
‘For a Synod Church: Communion, Participation and Mission’
Many thanks to all those who took part in the ‘Make Your Mark’ initiative launched on Ash Wednesday when you were invited to reflect and respond to four questions that were printed on a postcard. 86 responses were received and the following is a summary of the main themes and topics which emerged.
Question 1. ‘The love of God is for everyone. As a Diocese we aspire to “Open wide the doors of the Church to all without exception”.
Who finds welcome and support for their Christian journey?
Responses ranged from most people feeling welcome to specific mention of the elderly, families, regular church attenders and those experiencing difficulties and bereavement.
Who might feel left out?
A considerable number of responses highlighted the LGBTQ+ community, the divorced, separated and those in second relationships who may not be able to avail of the sacraments. Young people were cited quite frequently as being left out as well as ethnic groups. Many felt that women are left out as they are not allowed to play a vital role within the Church. A few responses referred to feelings of exclusion when our churches had to close during the pandemic.
Question 2. ‘Every baptised person is called to participate in the mission of the Church.
How is dialogue and participation in the life of the Church enabled?
The main ways cited with regard to how this is enabled were by group meetings, church events, personal invitation, links with school and involvement in active ministries and also by working with other denominations.
How is it hindered?
Participation was seen to be hindered by lack of encouragement to become involved, poor communication about what is happening in the life of the Church and a lack of transparency. Another common theme was the perception that contributions made by the laity were viewed as of little value and the language used was often ‘off-putting’. The need for evangelisation within the church was also a theme often cited. Several respondents felt that at dialogue and participation is hindered by the lack of education and on-going teaching in the Catholic faith.
Question 3. We are called to mission: to put our faith into action.
What enables us in speaking up for the Gospel and acting courageously in society?
Respondents cited that we do this more by our actions than our words and being brought up in the faith helps us to be more knowledgeable and confident in speaking up for the Gospel. The leadership currently being shown by Pope Francis has also been an enabling factor.
What hinders us?
A number of respondents believe that the media play a major role in hindering us and, because Christian values are not reflected in Western values, we therefore lack confidence in speaking out. Many stated that there is the fear of how others might see and treat us, particularly here in N. Ireland, if we were to speak up and act courageously. Other responses reflected the belief that we lack good role models, and that our faith is private and not something that we need to share. A lack of understanding and knowledge of the faith was again a theme noted in the responses. Recent scandals within the Church were also mentioned.
Question 4. What steps is the Holy Spirit calling all of us to take at this time?
Again, there was a wide range of responses but the main themes which emerged were:
In conclusion, from reading every response to all four questions, a common thread running through them was the need for on-going evangelisation and education in the faith, prayer, the open acceptance of others and the need for listening and sharing our faith as we journey together.
A summary of the responses has been submitted to the diocesan synodal team along with the feedback received from parishioners in relation to the style of language used on the post card which was felt to be off-putting and made the questions difficult to interpret.
The Pastoral Council will now take some time to look at the responses in more detail and reflect on the issues raised to identify any areas we can address and take forward as a parish. In the meantime, if you have any further comments or suggestions, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Holy Family Pastoral Council