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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“We raised so much awareness from our event, of both the ongoing Synod and of St. Phoebe and her ministry. Together, we learned of the power of the intercession of St. Phoebe, and how significant her feast day can be to carry the message of women’s roles in the Church.”
The Church of St. Francis Xavier
New York, NY
“The most meaningful parts of our celebration together included a standing ovation following the witness reflection, the power and strength of the reflection itself, and the procession at the start of mass. In the procession, young women carried in and presented symbols of St. Phoebe including an icon, the commission of St. Paul, a deacon’s stole and a pitcher of water to symbolize our shared baptism.”
St. Barnabas Parish
Chicago, IL
“Preaching on the Feast of St. Phoebe, and supporting and training other women to preach, was a joyful and invigorating experience. It is beautiful to see women claim the truth that they are called and gifted, and equally beautiful to see the People of God’s receptivity to women’s preaching, ministry, and leadership.”
Rhonda Miska
St. Phoebe Day Witness at St. Thomas More Catholic Community in St. Paul, MN; Founder and Co-convener of the Catholic Women's Preaching Circle; Catholic Women Preach Advisory Board Member

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