On Saturday June 19th 2021 420 people gathered for a zoom meeting. This was the meeting of the Synod of the Archdiocese of Liverpool.
The 420 people were:
• Synod Members: Lay people: one from each parish and eight from each Deanery. Priests with an appointment in the Diocese.
• Members chosen from the Religious and seminarians and retired priests of the Diocese
• Observers – Ecumenical (including local church leaders)
• Other Dioceses: Bishops of the Northern Province
• Special invites – those who have journeyed with us since the start of Synod 2020.
The main talk of the meeting was, after months of discernment, to make know through the voting the way forward for the Archdiocese.
The voting took place on the 19 Recommendations (29 votes).
Each member had to make a choice of one of the 4 options below on the Recommendations:
A: This is a high priority which the Archdiocese should enact soon
B: This is an excellent idea but not at the top of my list
C: This doesn’t strike me as vitally important
D: This is not the right way forward for us in the Archdiocese.
All 19 Recommendations received overwhelming support.
There were 7 Recommendations that received the most votes:
We, the people of the Archdiocese, recommend that the pastoral plan heed the call of the Church to be courageous in guiding all Catholics to deepen their relationship with Jesus, and to engage in our mission to help make Jesus known and loved in our world.
We, the people of the Archdiocese, recommend that the pastoral plan must include honouring the many vocations of all the baptised, women and men alike. This will also include a strong commitment to lay ministry including training employed ministers, supporting volunteer ministers, and coordinating their work alongside the clergy.
A More Inclusive Church
We, the people of the Archdiocese, recommend that the pastoral plan include dialogue with those who feel excluded, in order to develop initiatives so that the whole Church can reflect on what it means to be more inclusive.
Young People and Young Adults
We, the people of the Archdiocese, recommend that the pastoral plan include a plan to assist parishes in understanding, meeting, forming and welcoming young people and young adults, and developing locally employed and volunteer youth ministers to work with young people and young adults.
We, the people of the Archdiocese, recommend that the pastoral plan include a comprehensive review of how we hand on and nurture the Catholic faith within the school context.
Love of Neighbour
We, the people of the Archdiocese, recommend that the pastoral plan include training for parish volunteers who can accompany those most in need; giving special attention to those who are housebound, sick, or immigrants, and to those who are members of cultural and ethnic minorities.
Governance and Synodality
We, the people of the Archdiocese, recommend that the pastoral plan as part of our growing commitment to synodality, develop a process that ensures women are equal, valued, visible and heard.
It would have been possible for any of the 19 Recommendations to be given a vote which said: “this is not the right way forward for the Archdiocese.” This did not happen.
This indicates that the 4 years of our Synod journey, where we have listened and then tried to discern what has been said, has been in the right direction. This surely is the path of synodality where every voice has a place.
Synod Members were also invited to say which of all the Recommendations were most important: This is what they said: Evangelisation, Lay Ministry, Young People.
The full results can be found in the July edition of the Catholic Pic and at synod2020recommendations.org.uk
What happens next?
The Archbishop will prepare a Pastoral Plan in the light of all that the Synod has said. This will be announced on the 1st Sunday of Advent 2021. He will not be doing this on his own. He has set up a Pastoral Plan Group who, with others, will work with him in doing this. In his Synod Pastoral Letter Archbishop Malcolm has said this:
“Each of these voted on Recommendations will open for us a more committed and sometimes different way of being a disciple of Jesus. All the recommendations will give shape to how we act as good stewards of our resources and how we focus our energies.”
“There is much work to be done analysing the full experience of the Synod, but this is my initial reaction. In the first place, we care about our children and young people, whether it is in our schools or later as they make their journeys through life as young adults.
My second reaction is that the priorities which have been identified suggest that being an outward-looking church is essential – evangelisation, love of neighbour and inclusivity all go together. Indeed, our journey as God’s pilgrim people is undertaken in the midst of humanity, and you have reminded us of the need to be alert to the joys and hopes, the griefs and sorrows of all humanity, and to be, each in our own lives, ministers of God’s mercy, love and healing.
I was reminded that synodality is not just a one-off event but is part of the DNA of the church. The synod members asked that we continue to journey together and embrace the rich gifts of ministry that the Holy Spirit has poured out upon all the baptised – some to ordination, some to consecrated life, but also to all the lay faithful who have an important part to play.”
SYNOD 2020 - Parish Update April 2021
Despite the difficulties Covid 19 has created, the work of the Synod and its members has continued.
You will recall we began by addressing 4 questions in our Parish meetings. 27,000 responses were submitted across the Archdiocese and from these 4 themes were developed. Following further consultation and discernment the responses to these themes were developed into 120 proposals and 45 affirmations.
Having absorbed all the feedback on these proposals and affirmations we now have been asked to consider 19 possible recommendations of the Synod to the Archbishop. Voting on these recommendations will take place at Synod Council in June Fr. Gerry ; Deacon Gerry Fishwick and myself will be asked to carry out this task .
We are happy to take into consideration views parishioners may have on these recommendations and build them into how we choose to vote as Synod members. There are some excellent resources on the Synod 2020 website (https://www.synod2020.co.uk/#) to help us think through the 19 recommendations. The Synod team have produced a booklet “Together on the Road” which guides us through the recommendations in a clear and thought provoking way.
All through the process we have tried hard to listen well and discern what we have been told in order to accurately reflect the views of our parishioners.
We feel that emerging from Synod 2020 we will develop an exciting and relevant plan for the Archdiocese over a considerable period of time in the future.
Please remember us in your prayers as we try our best to work on your behalf in this final stage of our Synod.
Martin Ainsworth, Synod Member
e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
SYNOD 2020 - Parish Update January 2020
From the 20,000 contributions submitted in Stage 1 of the Synod Consultation 4 themes were discerned . We are now asked to consider these themes in turn and to produce up to 5 Parish proposals for each one . We dealt with the first 2 themes before Christmas and submitted our proposals to the Synod 2020 Office . We now have a 2 further themes to consider and then return our proposals to complete our work . The meetings have been conducted in a spirit of positive ambition displayed by the attendees . Views have at times been wide ranging and members have listened carefully to each others opinions . Our first two sets of proposals (see below ) emerged relatively easily and hopefully reflect the overall concerns and hopes of our group .
It would be lovely to have even greater numbers of Parishioners at the next set of meetings . I think all who have attended went away feeling it was a good use of their time and was important work for the future of our Archdiocese .
When all the proposals have been submitted to the Synod 2020 Office they will work with Liverpool Hope University to assemble the Archdiocesan proposals . These will be considered at a series of meetings Synod members will attend . The final list of proposals will be published by Archbishop Malcolm taking account of the views of Synod members . The final Synod proposals will be presented to Members on 19 & 20 th June .
The final Synod events will take place on 17 & 18th October . The action plan will then be activated and begin to impact on the life and work of all members of our Archdiocese.
The 4 Themes and St Mary’s proposals
Theme 1 - All called and gifted by God
Our proposals ;-
Review and refresh forms of communication employed by the Archdiocese and Parishes. Ensure these communications are tailored to specific audiences e.g Young people.
Build stronger and more regular contacts between Parishes and their Schools encouraging increased contributions from young people in the life and liturgy of their Church .
Identify best practice within the Archdiocese of successful working structures , management models and inspirational leadership . Find effective ways to share and develop this best practice.
Explore and build better pathways into the Priesthood to foster more vocations. E.g.’s -Apprenticeship schemes for new priests ; A specific vocational degree ; Late entry for retirees ; Part -time priests who have other jobs .
Free up existing priests to perform the roles only they can carry out , creating time for priests to be more visible in the day -to- day life of their communities
Theme 2 - Sharing the mission of Jesus
Develop initiatives and projects at Archdiocese , Deanery , School and Parish levels that make positive, visible contributions to improve the environment locally and globally reflecting our love of God’s world and its people.
Improve our forms of communication ensuring they project a message that is welcoming and relevant to everyone in our Archdiocese and Parishes.
Explore ways of encouraging individuals to return or to start to be a new member of our Parish family . Train “Welcomers” ; Carry out a Parish Census ;”Buddying “ schemes bring the housebound and isolated to Parish services and events .
Rationalise and evaluate the use and purposes Archdiocesan/ Parish Land and Property . Improve our Worship spaces to be accessible to all groups particularly young families and young people . Avoid priests living on their own. Use excess property to create affordable housing and accommodation for the homeless.
Develop learning opportunities for parishioners both spiritual and temporal . Develop the confidence of members of our Archdiocese to be able to carry out the evangelical mission with confidence and knowledge .
Theme 3 - How we pray together
The Liturgy/Mass - increase Youth / Family involvement by allocating tasks e.g. Welcoming; Reading; Collecting ; Offertory; Altar serving ; Music ; Projects ; Refreshments . Work with Schools to develop rotes for these tasks .
Grow and develop our understanding and approaches to Prayer . Find more opportunities for us to learn and practice together . Pre- Mass prayers ; House groups ; Inter - generational groups ; with other Christians and Faiths .
Discover and celebrate successful Archdiocesan/ Deanery / Parish prayer / liturgy activities and communicate them widely . e.g. Masses broadcast on- line .
Develop a closer working relationship between School leaders and their associated parishes . There is a responsibility for our schools to be more boldly evangelical in enriching the Faith of our young people .
Explore how we can best use our buildings , particularly our Worship spaces to enliven and make relevant the celebration of our Faith so that everyone , especially families and young people , gains engagement , enlightenment and enjoyment from Mass, Liturgy and Prayer .
Theme 4 - Building community, nurturing belonging
Schools need to better inform and involve their Parishes and Vice - Versa . Increase shared events ; forms of communication ; exploit the pools of talent and experience .
Carry out a Census at least at Parish level so that we know who we have in our Parish. Find out what they can offer and what they might need . Organise opportunities for Parishioners to speak about their contributions to the life and work of the Parish so that we know more about Who , What , Where , When and Why in our Faith Family.
Increase the number of Parish / School / Community events both spiritual and practical offering different ways of being involved in Parish life . e.g. Seasonal events; creative and sporting activities ; Charity/ Community projects .
Improve our welcome for newcomers to our Parish and for those who have become disconnected from us . E.g.’s Train Welcomers at Mass and include Young People ; Display friendly and informative signage in Church ; Sign up sheets for newcomers ; Announce the names of newcomers at Mass .
Rationalise the number of Churches that are in close proximity to one another to avoid unnecessary duplication . Organise Mass times across a district / deanery to maximise opportunities for people to find a Mass that suits their constraints and circumstances.