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Archives Diocese kicks off participation in synod

November 3, 2021

By Darcy Fargo

OGDENSBURG – With the diocesan kickoff Mass held Oct. 17, the Diocese of Ogdensburg has kicked off its participation in the Synod on Synodality.

Pope Francis officially opened the two-year synod on Oct. 10.

“The purpose of the synod is to learn how to be synodal,” said Marika Donders, diocesan director of Evangelization and chairperson of the diocesan participation. “The theme is ‘Mission, Communication and Participation.’ The objectives are to look at what the Holy Spirit is saying to the church and how we are to walk forward together. It’s an invitation of the Holy Spirit for us to go on pilgrimage together, in a sense, as a church and to see who we will encounter and how we will encounter Christ on this journey and how he’ll walk with us.”

The synod centers around consultation and dialogue.

“It’s basically an exercise in listening,” Donders said. “It’s listening to the Holy Spirit and to each other and listening not with that sense of ‘I need an answer’ or ‘I need to solve a problem,’ but coming together. We’re all baptized and have received the Holy Spirit. We all have something to say, share and contribute in terms of the process of being church. We’re all church together. It’s a whole sense of co-responsibility – it’s not just the priests and bishop who are responsible for the church. We all have something to contribute to the process. We all walk together. We’ve all received gifts to share.”

Additionally, the process will build on the diocesan envisioning process conducted in 2014.

“As a result of that process, our diocesan priorities were developed,” Donders said. “We’ll be continuing that process of envisioning. It’s time to look at the priorities and see what we need to do next, what we need to tweak and where we go from here.”

In terms of the process, Donders noted the synod would be conducted in three phases locally.

“It’s a series of conversations that we’ll have on different levels,” Donders said. “In the parish, there are three phases. The first phase is conversations with existing groups – parish councils, Knights of Columbus, ministerial groups. The second phase is reaching out to those in the pews. The third phase is reaching out to those beyond the church doors. It’s not just answering a survey; the questions are more like prompts for discussion about what we’re seeing in the church and society, how we’re responding to the Holy Spirit, what the Holy Spirit is calling us to do as church and where we go from here.”

Pastors were asked to identify delegates in their parish who could assist in the synodal process in their communities. Bishop Terry R. LaValley invited those delegates to the diocesan opening Mass of the synod, and he’ll meet with them this week in sessions planned for Nov. 3 in Clayton, Nov. 4 in Colton and Nov. 5 in Morrisonville.

The synod is also intended to include individuals having one-on-one and group conversations.

“An individual might have coffee with their friends and discussions with them,” Donders said.

After prayerful conversations, themes can be shared with the diocese for consideration in preparation of the diocesan report to the Vatican.

“We’ll have an online form to respond back to us,” Donders said. “Anyone can respond. It centers around the conversations. We’re asking people to talk about themes that came up – listening, authority, what does the church’s mission look like, how are you participating in the church, what does community mean to you…”

The diocese is providing delegates and parishes resources and sample questions to guide the conversations held as part of the synodal process.

To learn more about the Synod on Synodality, visit synod.va/en.html. A diocesan website for the local efforts will be live soon.

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