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Paving the way towards 2020

Thursday the 11th of October

This article first appeared in the Catholic Pic in May 2018.

Since the Archbishop announced the Synod in his Pastoral Letters in October and December 2017 you may be thinking, it has all gone quiet, what is happening?

In one sense it has all gone quiet – that is because this first Year, October 2017 – October 2018, has been designated as a Year of Prayer. The foundation of our Synod must be prayer. Liverpool is fortunate enough to be hosting the Eucharistic Congress and Pilgrimage in September 2018 and so our first year of prayer is in conjunction with our preparations for the Congress.

In Advent each parish was invited to pray a specially composed prayer at every Mass. This prayer asked that we open ourselves to the presence of Christ amongst us and that we be a listening Church. This was our opening action of the Synod – for the whole Diocese to be joined in a prayerful act together. There will be another opportunity to pray for the Eucharistic Congress and the Synod in the 9 days between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost Sunday (the original novena). Again every parish will be sent a special prayer which takes the following form: 

Come Holy Spirit, 
fill our hearts with wisdom, 
love and courage. 
Make us more like Christ 
in our words and actions.

Bless the work of your Church. 
Renew us all in the desire 
to make Christ 
known and loved 
in the world today.

Bless the work of our parish.
Guide all that we do 
so that our Church is a place 
of mercy and service 
for all who are seeking you. 

Deepen our love for the 
Presence of Christ in the Eucharist 
and guide us in prayer and action 
as we journey towards Synod 2020 
to become the Church you are calling us to be. 

We ask this through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

This prayer will be in the form of a bookmark. You may be able to take it and place it in your missal or it can be used in the Mass Books at Church if you use them. We hope that those who are not able to come to Mass because they are housebound will be able to pray this prayer with us through the good offices of our Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.

This is not all. The Archbishop has been going around the Diocese leading Holy Hours in preparation for the Synod. It has been wonderful to see people coming out to join him in prayer. The Holy Hours continue until July. If you can get to any of the following at 7.30pm you are more than welcome:
  • May 16 - St Mary’s Chorley
  • May 22 - St Joseph’s Penketh
  • May 29 - St Anne’s Priory Ormskirk
  • May 30 - St Joseph’s Leigh
  • June 5 - St Teresa’s Upholland.
  • July 5 - St Matthews, Queens Drive, Liverpool.
  • July 13 - SS Peter and Paul, Crosby
As well as these very public actions there has been a lot of work happening behind the scenes. A Synod Working Group has been established at the invitation of Archbishop Malcolm. The purpose of this Group is to move forward the Synod process and plan for the Synod itself.

The Working Group is made up of eight people, starting with Fr Philip Inch and Fr Matthew Nunes, who have been appointed Synod Moderators by the Archbishop. Sister Rachel Duffy FCJ will provide insights from the religious, Fr Mark Beattie is tasked with overseeing the liturgy, and Fr Stephen Pritchard, chaplain at Liverpool Hope University, will ensure that the ecumenical and theological aspects are not overlooked. In charge of logistics for the Synod, meanwhile, are Mrs Debbie Reynolds, a pastoral assistant at SFX Church in Liverpool, and Mrs Maureen Knight, who brings vast experience from across the diocese. Finally, Fr Dominic Curran is responsible for the Synod's IT and communications.

Listening to Our Priests
In another of the significant early steps taken towards the Synod, the Archbishop invited all of the active priests of the diocese to join him for a day of prayer and reflection in March. The Archbishop introduced each day (one at LACE, the other at St Joseph’s in Wrightington) inviting all the priests to pray for the Synod and reflecting on the gift of the Eucharist in the life and ministry of a priest. In a hour of silence, before the Blessed Sacrament, each priest of the Diocese was asked to reflect on how they felt about themselves, how they felt about their ministry and how they felt about the Diocese and to write down what could happen to make each of those a bit better.

After lunch together, the comments made were reported back to the assembled priests and to the Archbishop. These two days enabled the Archbishop to begin the journey towards Synod 2020 by being rooted in the experience of listening to his priests. For us all, the need for listening will be at the heart of our journey to the Synod and it will be a major focus for our work in Year 2 of the Synod process.

Reflecting this idea of journey the Synod logo has been slightly adapted to include the words: “Together on the road” above the logo and the words: “Becoming the Church we are called to be,” underneath the logo. Together on the road is the meaning of the word Synod. It also describes the fact that we as a Diocese are embarked on the Way – the Way of Jesus himself. “Becoming the Church we are called to be” is at the heart of what God is inviting us to be and do and it is why we are having a Synod.

What Next?
In the following months you will see an advert for the post of Synod Co-ordinator: a full-time, 3 year post. You will hear about Synod Sunday (October 21st 2018 and October 13th 2019), about Synod Membership (500 people) and what is expected of each Member. You will hear about the opening event of the Synod in the Cathedral on the afternoon of Sunday 3rd February 2019.

Before any of that the obvious way to get involved in this first year is through prayer. Please pray for the work of the Synod. It is not just a meeting - it is a process that will open us all up to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, so prayer is crucial.

In October 2018 there will be two open evenings where people of the Diocese are invited to come together to hear about the Synod and to be able to have their first opportunity to make comments that will help us in the shaping of the process. These will be held on October 16th at LACE and on October 18th at St Joseph’s Parish Centre in Chorley. These evenings will be from 7.30pm until 9.00pm. You do not have to book in advance.You are invited to come and see and hear and have your say. [Note: Since publication there are now five of these open meetings around the diocese. Details here]