By Father Jim
On October 10, 2021, Pope Francis formally opened the Synod on Synodality, a two year, three stage process of “mutual listening that involves the entire People of God.” This synod may be the most ambitious effort to renew and revitalize the Roman Catholic Church since the Second Vatican Council which began fifty-nine years ago last month.
Pope Francis says: “Celebrating a synod means walking on the same road, walking together.” But the word synod may be new to most of us. It comes from the Greek, synodos, which means simply: “on the road together.”
According to the International Theological Commission, a synod is “an ancient and venerable word in the tradition of the Church…It indicates the path along which the People of God walk together. Equally, it refers to the Lord Jesus, who presents himself as ‘the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6)’, and to the fact that Christians, his followers, were originally called ‘followers of the Way (cf. Acts 9:2, 19, 9.23; 22:4; 24, 14:22).”
The preparatory document of the synod also says: “In this sense, synodality enables the entire People of God to walk forward together, listening to the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, to participate in the mission of the Church in the communion that Christ establishes between us. Ultimately, this path of walking together is the most effective way of manifesting and putting into practice the nature of the Church as the pilgrim and missionary People of God (PD 1).”
According to the Holy Father, the synod “is not about garnering opinions or taking a survey, but listening to the Holy Spirit.” It is not simply a series of meetings, consultations, or power point presentations. It is not simply completing a survey, meeting with a bishop, local pastor, or pastoral team. It is not simply about speaking your mind on this or that issue related to our work together as a Christian community.
A synod is instead a journey that includes every member of God’s family. It is an opportunity to meet each other and to share our experience of God’s love and mercy in our lives. And it is about building up communion, participation, and perhaps even a stronger sense of mission in our parishes. It is all about our way of being — the way of living the Gospel, sharing God’s love, and rebuilding the Church during challenging times.
In the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, the results of the synodal path may not be realized during our lifetimes. Some things may change. Some things may not change. Whatever happens, let’s make this journey together, always together, as a community united in prayer, fellowship, and spirit. Let’s open our hearts and minds to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Let’s work together to grow closer to Jesus, closer to the Church, and closer to each other. As Pope Francis likes to say: “Closeness is the program.”
More news and information related to the synodal way are coming soon! Until then, all are invited to prayerfully complete the Archdiocese of Boston’s preliminary synod survey which can be found on our website: ccgronline.com. If you have any questions about the synod and its work, please see me or contact Cliff Garvey at email@example.com. Peace and blessings to all!
The Synodal Way
A Prayer to the Holy Spirit
For Good Discernment
Every session of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) began with the following prayer to the Holy Spirit. For hundreds of years, this ancient prayer has been invoked at councils, synods, and other Church gatherings. It is attributed to Saint Isidore of Seville (560-636); and is routinely called the Adsumus Sancte Spiritus, which translates as We Stand Before You, Holy Spirit. As the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport and parishes all around the world begin the synodal journey under the guidance of Pope Francis; and as we discern the creation of a new pastoral council, we ask the Holy Spirit to open our hearts and minds to God’s amazing grace.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
We stand before you, Holy Spirit,
as we gather together in your name.
With you alone to guide us,
make yourself at home in our hearts.
Teach us the way we must go
and how we are to pursue it.
We are weak and sinful:
do not let us promote disorder.
Do not let ignorance
lead us down the wrong path,
nor partially influence our actions.
Let us find in you our unity,
so that we may journey together to eternal life,
and not stray from the way of truth
and what is right.
All of this we ask of you,
who are at work in every place and time,
in the communion of the Father and the Son,
forever and ever. Amen.
Saint Ann & Saint Joachim, pray for us!
Saint Anthony, pray for us! Saint Peter, pray for us!
Our Lady of Good Voyage, pray for us!
Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!
The Synodal Way
A Time of Discernment
Creating a New Pastoral Council
By Father Jim
It is hard to believe that it has been more than seven years since Cardinal Sean asked me to serve as pastor of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport. In the beginning, the success of our collaborative was uncertain. Almost immediately, it became clear that only one priest would be assigned to our parishes on a full time basis. It then became necessary to evaluate buildings, finances, programs, mass schedules, and the work of our pastoral team. Some changes went unnoticed. Others took time to accept. And although our first months together were challenging, we have made steady progress toward becoming a community united in prayer, fellowship, and service.
The measure of our progress is a tribute to the deep faith and dedication of our parishioners. Your ongoing prayers and generosity mean the world to me. We also owe special thanks to our pastoral team which has faced every challenge with grace and resolve. We thank our parish finance councils for their expert advice and ongoing commitment to the long-term financial stability of our parishes. Lastly, we thank the members of our first combined pastoral council who have been a reliable resource for good counsel. My greatest regret as a pastor is not meeting often enough with our pastoral council. I hope to change that by creating a new pastoral council by Easter Sunday 2022.
Unlike a traditional parish council whose members focus on the needs of a single parish, our pastoral council is called to think beyond the boundaries of “my parish” toward a broader appreciation for what is best for “our parishes.” In accordance with archdiocesan guidelines, our pastoral council should meet a five times each year; will be comprised of an equal number of members from each parish; and will also include the pastor and pastoral associates (associate ministers). As such, our council will include me, two members from Holy Family Parish, two members of Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish, and two members of our pastoral team.
Between now and Ash Wednesday, please pray about a fellow parishioner whom you believe could make a constructive contribution to our pastoral council and to strengthening the historic collaboration between our two parishes. Your nominee must be an adult (age 18 or over); a registered parishioner in one of our parishes; a weekly participant in our sacramental life; and someone who is committed to the success of our collaborative. All members of the pastoral council must be able to work in a positive and productive way with me and our pastoral team.
Nomination forms are available at the link below and will be accepted through March 2, 2022. Completed forms can be given to me; dropped in the collection basket; or mailed to the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, 74 Pleasant Street, Gloucester, Massachusetts 01930. Nominations will be reviewed by me and a committee comprised of members of our finance councils and pastoral team. The strongest nominees will be asked to affirm that they are able and willing to commit themselves wholeheartedly to the mission of our parishes.
This is not an election or popularity contest! It is instead an important time of prayer and discernment. It should be guided by the Holy Spirit. And the primary goal should be to bring us closer to Christ, closer to the Church, and closer to each other. As this discernment process begins, please pray for all who live, work, and worship in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport. May the Holy Spirit help us to live the Gospel, share God’s love, and rebuild the Church!
Reverend James M. Achadinha, Pastor
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
The Synodal Way
Resources for the Journey
During the Opening Mass for the Synod, Pope Francis says: “Jesus calls us, as he did the rich man in the Gospel, to empty ourselves, to free ourselves from all that is worldly, including our own inward-looking and outworn pastoral modes; and to ask ourselves what it is that God wants to say to us in this time and the direction in which God wants to lead us…Let us have a good journey together (10-10-21).”
As we begin our journey along the synodal way, let us be mindful that the synod is not about agendas or complaining. It is about getting to know each other better, listening to each other, and listening to the Holy Spirit. It is about growing closer to Christ, closer to the Church, and closer to each other through good discernment and the timeless virtues of prayer, fellowship, and service. It is about communion, participation, and mission! It is about rebuilding the Church…together!
Resources for the Synodal Way
- Watch: Synod Opening Mass with Pope Francis (10-10-21)
- Watch: Understanding Synodality with Cardinal Collins
- Watch: Interview with Cardinal Schonborn (10-13-21)
- More Resources Coming Soon!
Understanding the Synodal Way
Two Minute Videos
- Watch: Episode 1 – What’s a Synod with Bishop Stowe
- Watch: Episode 2 – Who Can Participate?
- Watch: Episode 3 – Why Are We Doing This?
- Watch: Episode 4 – The Fundamental Question
- Watch: Episode 5 – Listening & Speaking Out
- Watch: Episode 6 – Discernment & Deciding
- Watch: Episode 7 – Necessary Attitudes
- Watch: Episode 8 – Roadblock Attitudes
Pope Francis says: “By walking together, and together reflecting on the journey made, the Church will be able to learn from what it has experienced, which processes can help it to live in communion, achieve participation, and open itself to mission.” Let’s begin the synodal journey…together! Come, Holy Spirit, show us the way!
The Synodal Way
Spiritual Exercise #1
How Does God Speak?
When Pope Francis opened the Synod on Synodality last fall, he made clear that becoming a “Listening Church” is not about listening to each other complain about this or that challenge facing the local or the universal Church. It is more about opening our hearts and minds to the faith experiences of our fellow parishioners, learning from those experiences, living out the lessons of those experiences, and sharing the wisdom of those experiences with others.
During the past nine years, the Holy Father has encouraged us over and over again to pray daily with the Holy Gospel. He says: “Try reading the Gospel for at least five minutes every day. You will see how it changes your life.” Those who attend Mass on a daily basis can attest to the power of the scriptures in their lives. Priests, deacons, and lay people who pray with the Liturgy of the Hours can also give witness to how praying with the psalms and scriptures can influence how they think, speak, and act throughout the day. Indeed, anyone who attends Sunday Mass, prays the Rosary, or participates in bible study programs has been touched by the beauty and challenge of God’s Word.
In the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, we take the Synodal Way very seriously. In order to better live the Gospel, share God’s love and rebuild the Church, we need to listen to each other and learn from each other so that we work with each other to reach out to those who do not know God or have turned away from the Church. In this spirit, we will be asking our fellow parishioners to engage in a series of spiritual exercises designed to give voice to how our shared faith has changed our lives.
Our first spiritual exercise is simple! How does God speak to you through the sacred scriptures? Which line, verse, or passage from scripture fills your heart and inspires you life? You can write down your answer and drop it in the collection basket during any Weekend Mass; mail it to us at CCGR Synod, 74 Pleasant Street, Gloucester, Massachusetts 01930; or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If possible, please provide your answer by the Solemnity of Saint Joseph on Saturday, March 19th.
Safe & Easy Electronic Giving
Electronic giving has become an essential component of parish support in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport; and it is available in both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. It is safe and easy to make online donations to your home parish using a credit card, debit card, or electronic check.
Donations can be made on a weekly, monthly, or one-time-only basis; and it takes just a few minutes to set up a secure personal account. In additional to the weekly offering, you can also give electronically to our church restoration funds which helps us plan for the repair and maintenance of our beloved and historic churches.
During these challenging times, Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish need your support more than ever before! Please prayerfully consider enrolling in our ‘We Share!’ electronic giving program! For more information about setting up a new account or for assistance with your existing account, please contact Father Jim at email@example.com. Thank you for your generous support for our parishes! May God bless you and your family, now and always!
Established in 2014, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport is a collaborative of two historic parishes: Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. Working together as a Roman Catholic community united in prayer, fellowship, and service, we are committed to living the Gospel of Christ, sharing God’s love and mercy with all people, and rebuilding the Church in Gloucester & Rockport. All are invited! All are welcome! Always!
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