As many of you have heard – the working document for the global synod called the Instrumentum Laboris was published three weeks ago. We have been overjoyed with the extraordinary good news – that the state of the question of women’s roles in the Church was indeed named as one of the priority themes to be discerned during the global synod meeting in Rome this October.
The IL also encourages participation at the local level and asks for local Churches to pray, reflect, act and make their own contribution to making our local Churches more synodal. (p. 8) All our Phoebe Day celebrations around the country and beyond are part of our contribution to this time of synod: a time to join in prayer and reflection as the world prepares for the global synod meeting in Rome in October.
But the good news continues. On Friday, July 7th, the Office of the Synod published the list of voting participants for the gathering in Rome this October. And there are two women from the U.S. whom we at Discerning Deacons have been accompanying as they led local synod processes – Dr. Cynthia Bailey Manns and college student Julia Oseka – both of whom had been selected by their bishops to participate in the continental phase gatherings in the U.S.
Cynthia Bailey Manns serves as the director of adult faith formation at the Saint Joan of Arc Catholic Community in Minneapolis, Minn. The parish is known for its robust social justice ministry and also for their worship style which includes regular reflections ahead of Mass delivered by lay people. Cynthia is a member of Archbishop Bernard Hebda’s Lay Advisory Board for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, and she is past coordinator and lead faculty in the spiritual director certificate program and co-director of the Lilly Endowment Initiative for Contemplative Discipleship at St. Catherine University in St. Paul.
Julia Oseka (pictured left receiving a blessing), a native of Poland, studies theology and physics at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. Julia is an active member of the Campus Ministry community there and has been a key student leader of Synodality in Catholic Higher Education in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (SCHEAP), a one of a kind coalition of 11 Catholic colleges and universities, and three Newman Centers who have journeyed together in the synodal process since November of 2021. SCHEAP’s synodal process has involved hundreds of students in 50+ listening sessions, integrated participatory art, and has included the participation of Archbishop Nelson Perez at every step of the journey.
I want to give a special shout out to Discerning Deacons team members: Deputy Director of Engagement Lisa Amman has been leading the Minneapolis DD Circle and working with tremendous leaders such as Cynthia to connect their diocese with the Global Synod. Maureen O’Connell, Discerning Deacon’s Director of Synod and Higher Education Engagement, has been a key anchor of the leadership team of SCHEAP mentoring the emerging leadership of young adults like Julia and encouraging their protagonist in the synod process!
Maria Cimperman, RSCJ, will serve as a facilitator at the fall assembly. You may or may not know that St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, founder of the Religious of the Sacred Heart is a Saint whose life inspires me daily, as her mission was to form women of courage and confidence, grounded firmly in the love Jesus has for each one of us. Maria is an ethicist and theologian who bears witness to this charism of the RSCJ’s – one that will surely serve to hold space for a courageous Spirit of God to guide the proceedings this fall.
We at DD are indebted to all of you for your ongoing commitment to this discernment that has truly made all this good news possible.
Thank you! Mil gracias! Firme Adelante!