You are invited
Imagine Pope Francis showed up in your neighborhood and wanted to throw a huge banquet. He sends an invitation out far and wide, to absolutely everyone: the daily mass goers, those who haven’t been in a church in decades, those from the Orthodox Church and the Baptist Church and the secular humanists. He especially wants to hear from young people, from women, from those who feel like they are on the edges of the Church or society.
Why call for such a rag tag potluck? Because our Pope wants to learn about your pains and sorrows, your hopes and dreams for the Church. Imagine if he said no topic is off limits, no person is excluded, and disagreement is welcome. And what if Francis told you he simply wanted to listen to you, really listen. To you.
Well, a synod – a global gathering of the Church – about your hopes and dreams might be the next best thing to the neighborhood festival with Pope Francis.
Pope Francis wants the people of the Church and even those who are not formally a part of it to gather together in conversation circles around the world to dialogue about what they want for the Church of the future. And he plans to listen. And so do we in Discerning Deacons.
We want to take time together to share our stories… stories of joy, of pain. To share our hopes and our dreams of what might be.
And to start to flex an often forgotten muscle: communal discernment where together we learn to listen to how the Holy Spirit is alive, present in us, moving in us and speaking in and through our encounters.
Our experienced team of skilled listeners and facilitators will be capturing the wisdom of those gathered.
We’ll be synthesizing the key themes and insights from YOUR CONTRIBUTION in this historic consultation. That will be shared directly with the US Catholic Bishops and we will make it public too.
Part of the role of a deacon is to be the eyes and ears of the Bishop – to make known what the needs of the people are, who is suffering, what injustice demands a response. Recognizing the Bishop cannot be in every place at every time – deacons are delegated to bring the presence of the bishop out into the world, and in turn to bring the world into the chancery.
As diaconal women – we seek to serve the Bishop of Rome, and the Magisterium of Bishops who are being invited to move out to the peripheries – to listen humbly, to discern where the Holy Spirit is at work.
But perhaps you are in a place where the listening sessions have already passed – and you are only now just learning of them.
If you haven’t yet had an opportunity to participate – we warmly welcome you to join us in this space.
We recognize there is much discussion about those no longer practicing – and myriad strategies for “how to get people back.” We are not here to have an agenda or try out strategies on you. We want to create space for listening – not to apologize or defend the Church, not to judge you for the path you are on.
We make a particular commitment to you: this is not a secret “catholic come home” call. For some it may be more like an exit interview that never happened. We would like to listen – we trust that maybe you haven’t been heard as you reflect on the path you are on and where you chose to step away – maybe where you felt the Church stepping away from you. Your perspective is important and needs to be heard.
We are hearing that some dioceses have had very limited participation. The USCCB has created a special reporting structure with an extra 16th region to ensure that everyone has a path to be heard in this journey.
So yes: this is one concrete way to participate in the synod.
If you want to participate as a group who is in person – please drop us a line. Otherwise you are welcome to spread the word amongst any in your network!
Plan to attend with an open heart and a willingness to speak and make room for others’ voices. You might prayerfully consider the question: “If I could have coffee with Pope Francis, what would I want to share with him?”
Consider: in your own journeying with the Church, where have you felt most alive and invited to participate? Where are the times where you feel the Church has left you behind, or you did not feel invited to share your gifts? Are there experiences of pain? Are there dreams you have on your heart for how the Church might grow and take steps to journey with you and your loved ones today?
Finally: how does the question of women’s roles, gifts, and vocation resonate in your own lived experience? What steps would you hope the Church would take to receive the gifts of women for a synodal church?