A Bonus Year + Weaving Webs

spider webs on Casey's morning walk in Italy, near Florence.

spider webs on Casey's morning walk in Italy, near Florence.

Pope Francis announced on Sunday that what we thought would be the culmination and conclusion of a two year process – October 2023’s Synod Assembly in Rome – will in fact be a point of convergence along the way.

Next October’s Synod gathering will be the first of two such meetings, to help foster and grow a Church more capable of walking together as God’s people on earth.

I feel a little bit like I just earned an extra life in a video game. We get to keep on playing!

There’s more time for the saplings of a synodal church to take root. There’s more space for us to become a community more capable of sinking into deeper ground than what divides us, to be nourished by the roots of our faith tradition while the branches reach out in new, even surprising directions as we are stretched in mission.

“The fruits of the synodal process that has gone ahead are many, but in order for them to bear much fruit, we can’t hurry,” said Pope Francis, adding that the extension was an effort to help make synodality part of the “constitutive nature of the church.” (from NCR Coverage)

What a gift! Pope Francis knows: good things take time. It’s delicate work. This is a truth that Jennifer and Sophie, 3rd year Mdiv Students at Notre Dame, know quite well. They were longing to find a way to contribute as part of discerning deacons. After nearly a year of dreaming & conversing, they were able to invite Dr. Phyllis Zagano and Anna Nussbaum Keating to come to campus and help foster the dialogue. AND THEY PACKED THE ROOM! You can read their full report here – and check out this news coverage from the Irish Rover, the Campus Catholic newspaper.

On my morning walk today in the mountains of Italy, just south of Florence, I noticed hundreds of spider webs. Fragile. Dripping in dew. Intricate, messy, Tangled and symmetrical. While sometimes our work seems more like a buzzing bee hive, these webs remind me of the careful work: connecting and linking, transforming.

Stepping back, I can see beautiful patterns emerging – some more clearly than others – often marked by strength and fragility. We 

wait with hope and gratitude for the Synod office to put forth a discerning document for the next continental phase of the synod.

In the meantime – all praise to the great web – as the poet Denise Levertov wrote.

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“[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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