Have you ever noticed that when you learn a new word, you suddenly see it everywhere? I recall this happening to me a lot when I was in school.
It’s happening again, with the word “synodality”. I first started reading about it a year or two ago, in the pages of Commonweal. (A great Catholic magazine, by the way. I recommend it.) Commonweal articles described the synodal processes begun by Pope Francis, noting the emphasis on listening to everyone in our church, not just bishops and priests.
More recently, I was reading a recent copy of Pastoral Music, a national journal for music ministers in Catholic churches. There it was: “The process of synodality is a prime opportunity for everyone to listen, so that all may be heard.”
And again, in a recent book by Rafael Luciani, Synodality: A New Way of Proceeding in the Church. Luciani builds on the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, calling all of us to reconfigure how our church is organized.
Here at St. Matt’s, we’ve been wrestling with related issues for years. After all, we often say, “We’re a volunteer church.” I see that lived out in our many volunteers, engaged in our many ministries. We’re in little danger from “staffism”, a term I heard from a colleague in a large parish with many staff members. (Why volunteer when you can sit back and expect a staff member to do things for you?)
On May 2, we even convened our own “mini-synod” here at St. Matt’s. The purpose was to listen for the needs of the entire West Side. We had almost forty people in the Social Hall, discussing local needs. They came from our parish, from local schools, businesses, non-profits and other churches.
It’s a hazard to use insider jargon, so no one used the term “synodality” at our May 2 meeting. Rather, the emphasis was simply on listening.
Two general themes emerged from the May 2 conversation. One was a need for community; the other had to do with resources. We’re still processing the data. More about this later.
Thank you for your support, and have a great week!