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Walking Together to be the Church of the Future

In the past few years, Catholics have been introduced to the word “synodality”. It comes from the Greek preposition συν (with) and the noun όδός (path). It denotes following a path together. It is walking with, travelling with, and accompanying. It is lay faithful, priests, and bishops journeying together. In terms of Catholics gathered in a Synod, it refers to “listening” to one another through “spiritual conversations”. As Pope Francis explains:

“A synodal Church is a Church which listens, which realises that listening “is more than simply hearing”. It is a mutual listening in which everyone has something to learn. The faithful people, the college of bishops, the Bishop of Rome: all listening to each other, and all listening to the Holy Spirit, the “Spirit of truth” (Jn 14:17), in order to know what he “says to the Churches” (Rev 2:7). 

Since 2021, the Catholic Church around the world has been preparing for the ‘Sixteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of the Bishops’ with its theme of: “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, Mission”. On Wednesday, 4 October, the First Session opened in Rome and will run to 29 October; the second session will open in October 2024. The theme of this synod sets the tone for this gathering. Pope Francis has indicated that this is not a parliament with winners and losers but rather an attempt to discern how the Church can better fulfil its mandate to preach the good news of Jesus in every place and culture for the benefit of all God’s people. That cannot happen without honest discussion about present challenges and opportunities. Everyone will not have the same list of concerns or the same sense of what is working and what is not, what needs to change and what needs to stay the same. 

What Does a Synodal Church Look Like? 

American Cardinal Robert McElroy has centred on eight adjectives that Pope Francis has used to describe a synodal Church. The cardinal said that synodality or a synodal Church: 

  • points to the reality that the whole of the people of God are journeying together; 

  • demands a profound stance of authentic listening from every believer who seeks to participate in and contribute to the life of the Church; 

  • is continually rooted in listening to the word of God and celebrating the Eucharist that is the source and summit of the Christian life; 

  • is a humble and honest Church; 

  • seeks inclusion; 

  • demands a participative Church where co-responsibility flourishes; 

  • is a missionary Church; and 

  • is a discerning Church.      

The Pope asks us to pray for this process taking place in Rome, that the church may adopt listening and dialogue as a style of life at every level, allowing herself to be guided by the Holy Spirit. You can visit the Vatican website: for a daily summary of the synod’s activities.

Discerning Our Way Forward

May 2023

In 2021, the Archdiocese began discussing what the local Church in Melbourne might look like in the future, which was framed as re-imagining clusters of parishes as Mission Communities. In response to the archdiocesan invitation, our parish has developed a process for discerning our future, which we call ‘the parish roadmap’. In the first phase of the roadmap members of the Parish Leadership and Development Team were interviewed to explore what they see as the most burning issues that the parish will have to face over the next ten years. The following is a brief summary of the key issues that emerged from the interviews. The full Issues Report can be found below

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