Invitation: A Way to Walk Together for a Synodal Church

For a synodal church: communion, participation, mission” is underway.
Convoked on October 10, 2021 and set to conclude October 2023 in Rome, we are right now in the midst of, perhaps, the largest consultation of people on the earth that has ever been carried out.

Throughout the world people are creatively responding to the invitation. Each week the good news spreads and hope is stirred as more voices participate to help the Catholic Church to hear again the cries of the people, the shared hopes, prayers, dreams, and longings.

It is a time where seeds are being scattered. Sequoia seeds. Ones that may take a generation to nurture and bear fruit. We in discerning deacons want to help tend the ground. So the seeds have a chance to germinate.
This is why we want to invite you to join us as part of a synodal animators cohort.

This cohort is about helping us do that work of becoming a people walking together, as a community of communities. As leaders, listeners, facilitators, organizers, conveners, note-takers, synthesizers. Wearing all our various hats (lector, campus minister, teacher, chaplain, activist, liturgist). We have this unique opportunity to come together in this cohort-virtual workshop space, to connect across our diocesan and institutional contexts, and to brainstorm, learn from one another, and deepen & widen our impact together.

PRACTICALLY  – what is this about?

Click here for a brief overview on the who, what, why and when of this cohort.

  1. There are a few key dates where we gather virtually.
    1. An opening retreat (choose Jan 26 or 30)
    2. Trainings on how to organize thematic forums, for those interested (choose Feb 23 or 27)
    3. A prayer service during Lent (March 27)
    4. A closing celebration (June 30)
  2. Optional peer groups. (meeting 2x a month)
  3. A shared workspace on Slack – to facilitate an ease of sharing information, facilitator guides, sample agendas, tips, upcoming trainings, lessons and reflections.
  4. A shared vehicle for reporting back and being a part of our collective Discerning Deacons consultation & synthesis. Your work can be a part of this consultation. A piece of history we co-create.
  5. Modest resources available to help with costs associated with conducting a consultation (for example: enlisting a professional facilitator, hiring an artist, paying for food or hospitality expenses)

This is both a practical space and a space for formation. For exploring: what is the holy call for YOU within this process? How are you being called to participate? To bring your voice, experience and wisdom and gifts to bear witness, and to inspire others.

Who might you help to find their voice in this process?

In addition to planting seeds, what is the fruit that is wanting to be harvested? To be brought forth as an offering?

If the diaconate in particular touches on your heart – how might you help to serve the Church’s discernment? Is there an emerging consensus revealed in our listening that the restoration of women to the diaconate is part of how we can become a more synodal church? Or is there deep division on this question such that it would only divide us further? How can we know if we do not engage in open encounters to explore this collectively?

Together we can imagine more ways to reach more people, especially those who Pope Francis, in his wisdom, recognizes as a privilege to encounter: those on the ecclesial peripheries and the margins of power. It is here that Jesus loves to hang out, and here that the Holy Spirit can speak a word back to the Church.

We know the going will have its challenges. That’s why we want to wrestle with the questions as we live them together:

  • How can we hold space together with people who are carrying deep wounds inflicted by the church? 
  • How can we hold space for lament and for people’s contributions, or recommendations?
  • How can we discern what is held in common? Where is the communion emerging, without rendering any voices or contributions invisible?

We trust in this short window from January to June 2022 that God’s grace will overflow. And if we find ourselves deepening and knitting together relationships and sparking possibilities — even across divisions and boundaries that often kept us apart — we will discover that the journeying together is itself a fruit.

With prayers for peace and joy,
The Discerning Deacons Project Team
Casey Stanton, Ellie Hidalgo & Lisa Amman

Share this Article

“[I hope the Church ordains women to the diaconate] to bring a wider witness and expression of God’s life, love, and presence to the people of God. Women’s voices and leadership will heal, encourage and empower the lives of men, women, and children. It will call forth a new understanding of church vocation and enrich Catholic family life.”
Deedee Van Dyke
Catholic Chaplain, Joliet, IL
“The first Apostle was a woman, Mary Magdalena. She continues to remain a tower of strength for women in ministry today. If more women were ordained to the diaconate in the Roman Catholic Church, I believe we would have more meaningful and spiritually enriching homilies, and our liturgies would embrace and welcome all to the Eucharistic table.”
Sonja Grace
“If I was ordained as a deacon, it would not be a means to an end, but rather it would be a continual invitation to a deeper and broader journey with Christ. Deacons are asked to become outwardly more visible as hands in service to the Church. To respond to such a vocation would be a treasure, a deepening of my inner faith life enriched by the outward experiences of ministry and service. Both the inner and outer journey become a longing to seek and know the Christ we are called to serve.”   
Nina Laubach
Student, MDiv program at Princeton Theological Seminary

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