Since 2013, under Pope Francis’ pontificate, there have been two synodal journeys – the first focused on Family (Amoris Leatitia – the Joy of Love in the Family, 2016) and the second focused on Youth (Christus Vivit – Christ is Alive, 2019).
This year, on 9-10 October 2021, Pope Francis will officially open his third synodal – a three-year synodal as preparation for the celebration of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in October 2023. The Synod of Bishops, headed by the Pope, invites the entire Church to focus on the theme – “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission.”
A synodal means “journey together” which enacts and manifests the nature of the Church as a pilgrim Church and missionary people of God. In the Preparatory Document, the Holy Father desires us to reflect and discern, consult and discus on how the Holy Spirit has led the Church throughout history till today, in order to grow as a Synodal Church (walking or journeying together) on the three different levels:
|i)||The Particular or Local Church (Arch/dioceses and Bishops’ Conferences) – from October 2021 to April 2022;|
|ii)||The five continents (The Reginal Areas) – from September 2022 to March 2023; and|
|iii)||The Universal Church with the final Gathering of College of Bishops’ – on 23 October 2023.|
We need to recognise and appreciate the Church – “as both gift and task” as we use the variety of charisms and gifts that God has bestowed upon us for the benefit of the Church community and the entire human family on this “journey together.” In the process of journeying together, we invite everyone to participate and contribute through listening, discerning and sharing our story of faith and experiences, and recognise how to avoid the abuse of power and authority – so called “clericalism”. In our preparation of journeying together as a Church, we will experience a “renewal” which was proposed by the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) which will then lead us “to live communion, to achieve participation, to open Herself to mission.”
Archbishop Julian Leow will open phase one of the synodal in our Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, 17 October 2021, with a live broad cast of the event via tv.archkl.org. At this first level, each parish is required to form a Parish Synod Team (PST) consisting of 5-6 members (all languages) to reflect, discuss and discern in line with the questions below:
|i)||How is this “journey together” happening today in your parish / particular Church?|
|ii)||What steps does the Spirit invite us to take, in order to grow in our “journey together”?|
In our spirituality of journeying together towards October 2023, the Church will continue to hold our roles and responsibilities within our Christian communities and engage in dialogue with non-Christians, as we grow in our relationship with the Church and the entire human family.
Rev. Fr. George Packiasamy