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Communion | Participation | Mission

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Walking Together: a Synodal Journey for 2021-23

Synod 2021 - 2023

Overview: Pope Francis invited the entire Catholic Church around the world to take part in a listening journey, a process of discernment under the guidance of the Holy Spirit which formed the agenda of the 16th Synod of Bishops in Rome in October 2023. report links are below.

As a church, we were asked to reflect on how we respond to today's problems and needs, and upon how we become a listening Church. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Plymouth started its listening journey in Advent 2021 through to February 2022.

The Church were invited to gather with facilitators in groups or individually, to listen to the Lord in our hearts, and then speak openly with each other and  to listen to each other from our hearts, not to respond or solve particular issues or concerns, but simply to discern and listen to the Holy Spirit. Responses were gathered in parishes, passed on anonymously to the Diocese, and from there to the Vatican.

icon 'new' animated The Synod Report October 2023 at the conclusion of the 16th General Assembly of the Synod on Synodality is published, "A Church that involves everyone and is close to world’s wounds.  ecumenism, and abuse." Looking ahead to the second session in 2024, the text offers reflections and proposals on topics such as the role of women and the laity, the ministry of bishops, priesthood and the diaconate, the importance of the poor and migrants, digital mission.

icon 'new' animated Members participating in the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops have issued a ‘Letter to the People of God’ giving thanks for their experiences and explaining the work of the past weeks. Read more.

Synodal Journey Walking Together - newsletter May 2023

European Assembly Document - Prague, Feb 23 (English p37-86) 

Synodal Journey ‘Walking Together’ update Easter 2022: Thank you to everyone for your support and encouragement and honest and open reflections on this first phase of our listening journey. The Diocesan synthesis for the Synodal Journey in the Diocese of Plymouth has now been completed and includes a Foreword from Bishop Mark. This has been sent to the Bishops Conference, to contribute to the National Synthesis.  It can be downloaded here - the appendices are here - The Diocese will continue to reflect on taking this forward at local level. The final report sets out some initial next steps whilst the discernment phase continues at national level.


Synodal Journey ‘Walking Together’ update late March 2022: Thank you to all of you able to make your views known in person in the groups, online or by post to the Diocese. The next step is that the ‘synthesis’ of all the replies and thoughts needs to be with the Bishops’ Conference by 8th April.  This will be made available electronically and online along with a letter from Bishop Mark. (see above - Easter 2022)

Sixty ‘in person’ groups participated in the Diocese, along with about 1,000 replies. An outreach worker was working with marginal groups to find out their views too. Several themes are emerging. Many parishes are continuing to meet and talk to each other, also incorporating Bishop Mark’s document, 'A Precious Place of God's Grace', about the future for our parishes in the Diocese. There will be discussion materials with the synthesis report. The Diocese hopes to develop a way for parishes to share ideas, resources, and good practice online.

Locally: Once Holy Family Parish has its new meeting facilities running in Penzance, we hope to continue the talking and sharing process. A double sided A4 sheet is available, please ask.

Diocese of Plymouth, Walking Together Synodal Journey January newsletter


Synodal Journey news!  Fr. Philip wrote in our 1st January 2022 newsletter: Thank you to those who came along to the Advent meetings and participated with such openness and boldness, and to everyone who has shared their feedback so far. As a Church, the Pope has called us all into spiritual direction, and wishes us to listen to one another, and listen to those on the margins, where God is speaking. The matters arising will be brought into prayer and discernment at all levels of the Church, and will determine the agenda of the 2023 Synod of Bishops. 

We've made a good start in Walking Together in our parish and the journey continues. For many of us, this listening process has been new, challenging, and experimental -- and has proved to be a deep blessing. Responses have been positive, and there is a desire to continue to listen: to ourselves, to each other, and to God. We will arrange more meetings in the new year, and online feedback forms continue to be available for all of us. Feedback will continue to be welcomed throughout the Synod, and beyond. We are also looking for more facilitators.


Background: The Synod local facilitators held meetings at the churches in Penzance and Hayle over four weeks in November and December 2021. The Diocese provided us with many interesting questions and ideas for meeting and journeying together. Please find a pdf booklet with the guidance and questions for each week of Advent here  and a pdf of guidance and ground rules for the meetings here - other useful links are further below. There will be other opportunities to meet and talk.


Message from Bishop Mark: A two-year ‘synodal’ process is taking place in the Catholic Church from October 2021 that culminates in the final Synod Gathering of Bishops in Rome in October 2023. The overall theme is “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, Mission”. Pope Francis will open the Synodal Journey in Rome on 10th October. We will be launching our diocesan phase on Sunday, 17th October with Mass in our Cathedral. 

This will be followed with an online gathering to introduce the Synodal journey. (Watch: “Behind the global synod: why Pope Francis wants you to speak boldly and listen carefully.” with Austen Ivereigh on 16 November video link)

The first phase of the Synodal Process is a time of listening in local churches. We propose that this phase takes place in parishes during the Season of Advent. The aim is to foster as broad a consultation as possible, reaching out to integrate the voice of the poor and the excluded, and not only engaging those who have some role or responsibility within the local parish. Our Diocese has already started its Synodal journey through some discussions and submissions made through ‘A Precious Place of God’s Grace’ and we will build on what has been shared so far.

Each parish will have scope to adapt the listening phase to local circumstances and guidance and resources will be provided. The process will culminate in a Diocesan pre-synodal meeting in February/March 2022.

We hope that everyone will take part in this opportunity to have a say in our future Mission.

Bishop Mark also writes: ‘I encourage you to fully engage with this important process in the life of the Church, locally and universally, so that we can all be more effective missionary disciples. Very important is our prayer to the Holy Spirit so that we listen to what God is saying to us, as well as listening deeply to what we are saying to one another. May the Holy Spirit guide us on this journey together and give us a share in God’s wisdom and understanding.’ 

Prayer for the Synod: We stand before You Holy Spirit, as we gather together in Your name. With You alone to guide us, make Yourself at home in our hearts; teach us the way we must go and how we are to pursue it. We are weak and sinful; do not let us promote disorder. Do not let ignorance lead us down the wrong path nor partiality influence our actions. Let us find in You our unity so that we may journey together to eternal life and not stray from the way of truth and what is right. All this we ask of You, who are at work in every place and time in the communion of the Father and the Son forever and ever. Amen. 

‘Dear brothers and sisters, have a good journey! May we be open to the Holy Spirit’s surprises, the grace of encounter, reciprocal listening and discernment, joyfully convinced that, even as we seek the Lord, He always comes with His love to meet us first.’ ~ Pope Francis


LINKS: For further information please use the external links links below

The Easter 2022 Diocesan synthesis of responses can be downloaded here and its appendices here. 

Bishop Mark has shared an Address on ‘Walking Together’ given by Papal Nuncio Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti to a meeting with the Conference of Religious. Click here to read. 

Diocesan Pastoral Message from October

From Plymouth Diocese: Walking Together: The Process | Key Documents | FAQ's

The Diocese was joined online by Austen Ivereigh on 16 November to explore the topic: “Behind the global synod: why Pope Francis wants you to speak boldly and listen carefully.” video

Bishop's Conference Synod page and their FAQ's page

An explanatory video from the Catholic Church England and Wales is here. (Description: Pope Francis has invited the whole Catholic Church to question itself on what's called "synodality". It's an important theme in the life and mission of the Church - especially over the next two years. But what exactly is synodality and what does it mean for Catholics in England and Wales? Fr Chris Thomas, General Secretary of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, and Father Jan Nowotnik, Director of Mission, discuss the process and explain this invitation to communion, participation and mission.)

Austen Ivereigh on Pope Francis' vision for a synodal church video | talk

Communion | Participation | Mission

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