Dear parish family and friends,
As you may be aware, Pope Francis has asked the entire Church over the world to begin a journey of listening attentively to the Holy Spirit and to each other in order to deepen our understanding of what it means to live together as disciples of Christ, called to announce His Gospel in the world today. This journey, in which dialogue and consultation with all members of the Church will play a key role, will culminate in a special encounter called a Synod of Bishops, to be held in Rome in 2023. The theme of that Synod will be “Toward a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission”.
The word Synod comes from two Greek words which mean “journeying forward on the way together”. Essentially, the Holy Father is calling us to reflect on our experience of being part of the Church and how, together, we can better preach the Good News in the contexts of today’s world. In other words, what does it mean for us to belong to Christ and be in relationship with His Church? What does it mean for us to be engaged and involved with Christ in His Church? What does it mean for us to be sent out, to proclaim, and to serve, by Christ and His Church? We are being asked to rediscover together what it means to be a Church at the service of humanity, modeled after Christ who came “not to be served, but to serve (Mk. 10:45).
Participating in the Synod process at the grassroots level–the parish–is an opportunity for every baptized Catholic to be involved in shaping our Church for the future. In our own Diocese of Brooklyn, Bishop Emeritus Nicholas DiMarzio and our new Bishop Robert Brennan have asked every parish to participate in it. To help guide the process, the Diocesan Secretariat for Evangelization and Catechesis has provided us with some questions for group reflection and discussion together. The result of this will feed into the national Synod document which will be forwarded to the Holy Father by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. In a real sense, the collective input of the entire People of God will help the Pope and the Bishops of the world to shape their pastoral vision and planning into the future. It will serve the Church in her renewal to be more open to the voice of the Spirit (Pope Francis, Address for the Opening of the Synod, 9
I encourage everyone in our parish to take part in the Synod by participating in the Listening and Discerning Session which will take place on Saturday, January 15, from 9:30 AM to 11:30 AM in the Parish Institute, following the 8 AM Mass in the Lower Church, during which we will pray especially for the Lord’s blessing upon our parish’s Synod encounter. Mindful of the challenges still presented by Covid 19, I ask that all participants wear masks and observe the health protocols when you arrive for the session. It would be ideal to have a good representation of people from all ethnic backgrounds and from each group and organization within our parish.
At that meeting, we will share our experiences of Church, and dialogue about how we can enrich and grow the Church in the current cultural and societal contexts. Participants will be asked to form small groups according to the languages spoken; each group will have a facilitator and note-taker to assist in the process. All will have an opportunity to speak, and all inputs will be summarized and submitted to Bishop Brennan, who will, in turn, submit the summarized results to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops to be forwarded to Rome.
As you can see from this consultative process, the Church values each member’s experience and wants to know what you think. This is active participation at its best. I especially look forward to listening to you, as your inputs for the universal Church will also help shape my own pastoral vision and planning for the future growth of our own parish. Please pray for our Holy Father and the Synodal process in our Diocese and worldwide, that the Holy Spirit will draw us more closely together and enable us to be a light to the nations. May God bless you and our parish family as we begin this journey together, confident that our united efforts will bear fruit in a more fervent experience of faith.
Yours devotedly in Christ,
Msgr. Cuong Pham