Synodal Pathway Update (June 2022)
As you are aware that the Synodal Pathway feedback meeting of the representatives from parishes was held on Saturday 14th May 2022 at the Cathedral in Norwich. Chris Gent, Christine Patterson and Jane Crone attended the meeting as our parish representatives. Chris Gent has kindly written the following report of the day.
I wish to thank our representatives Jane, Chris and Christine for their hard work during the past few months in order to help the voices of our parish be heard on the synodal floor. We pray God’s blessing upon them for their generosity in offering this great service for our Parish Community.
Fr. Gladson Francesco OSA
Feedback from Chris Gent:
There is a widespread lack of confidence, particularly amongst the laity in sharing their faith with others. People are worried about being judged and "getting it wrong". They seem to forget the things that they find important in living out their own lives of faith and perhaps what riches they have as Catholics to share with the world. People in the group shared how much they personally had benefitted from reaching out to others, particularly through their local Churches Together and how meeting with people of other faiths and other denominations was extremely valuable.
We need to have a greater confidence in some of the great things we are already doing rather than back off from reaching out to others in our local communities for fear of getting it wrong. The CAFE course was recommended as a great way of encouraging sharing within your parish and of including "not just the usual suspects". "I'm not qualified" to share my faith is being frequently heard in our churches.
There is also a lack of confidence in discerning the movement of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in our churches. Again, people are probably actually quite discerning but would be fairly unaware about the Holy Spirit and how he guides and nurtures us.
People said that Covid had highlighted the importance of community in our lives and that the Synodal process was very timely in this respect as there is a thirst to share experiences and concerns about the faith and there is an eagerness to rebuild our communities and our parishes.
Communication has been problematic for a lot of parishes and there is a great need to rebuild in this area also, although people are still nervous about meeting. It was noted that some of our parishes have groups or factions within the parish family based around attendance at particular Masses.
We spend too much time naval gazing! The example of our lives is as important as anything else and we need to get out there and be with other people from our communities and other congregations.
Haverhill parish reported how important social events have been in bringing together communities that are ethnically diverse.
Rural Issues: Fr Luke says that he has more pigs than parishioners in his parish!! The deanery is geographically very large and there are issues around transport, time, the cost of fuel etc.
Major concerns were expressed about the increasingly aging demographic in our churches and the absence of youth from church settings when they reach adolescence. The current model of Catechesis is failing in many areas and it seems that more is needed than what is currently on offer which is limited to input around baptism, First Holy Communion and Confirmation. There are resource issues to address if catechesis is to become truly effective
Also, it was felt that catechesis is not just about head knowledge, but heart knowledge and that we are failing to tap into the rich seem of testimonies and personal faith journeys which we all have to share with others and that need to be brought out for the benefit of the Church.
People were generally positive about the synodal process finding that it has brought people together and encouraged them to share in far deeper ways than would otherwise have been the case.
Next Step: There was a general consensus that people would like to encourage more meetings like the one we had whereby the churches in each deanery meet on some kind of regular basis to share and encourage each other along the Synodal way.