Synod 2010: Synod of the Baptized Uncovers Deep Well of Hope
If signs of the Holy Spirit’s action in a group are joy and hope, Saturday’s Synod of the Baptized was a Spirit-filled place. Most of us were not able to see tongues of fire, but we heard voluble talk and shining eyes while people spoke of their experience of oneness.
The experience boiled over into Sunday liturgies in at least three parishes with many Synod goers. Sponsored by the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform and held at the Ramada Plaza Hotel on Industrial Boulevard in Northeast Minneapolis, the Synod attracted 492 participants. About 40 signed up who when the day arrived were not able to come.
Paul Lakeland, Fairfield University professor and prolific author, spoke on the mission of the Church and what we have to do to become the Church we need. Lakeland is an ecclesiologist, a student of the theology of Church. He said the mission of the Church is to the world and the role of the institutional structure of the Church is to support the laity in doing that mission. The test of the value of any policy or practice of the institutional Church is whether it supports the laity in its mission.
The Synod was a full day of talk and plans for action.
The two-hour afternoon break-out sessions were conducted by the Coalition’s 10 work/study groups. At work since April 18, 2009, they zeroed in on policies and practices and tested them in the strobe light of conscience. Some questions we asked: Does the culture of clericalism among an exclusively male clergy, supported by the discipline of mandatory celibacy, serve us in showing to the world a community of equality and holiness? Or does it stand in our way? What is the strength of our Catholic identity? Do we need strong identity to do the mission? What about the depth of our psychological development with regard to intimacy and out spiritual awareness as a community? Does Church teaching support our individual growth? How do we form our children in the faith? What about our commitment to social justice?
Some work/study groups turned their minds to questions of structures that are needed to support the laity in doing the Church’s mission. What kind of communication structures are needed? What kind of leadership do we need and how can we have a voice in selecting the leadership?
All the talk led to the plan of action. The Action Coordinating Team (ACT) of CCCR took over the Synod after the break-out sessions. They asked the Synod participants to sign up for organizing ways to wake ourselves up to awareness of the mission and to ask for institutional support to fulfill it.
The local Church of St. Paul and Minneapolis is rapidly changing. On October 16-17, the Archbishop will announce his decisions about streamlining the parish system of the Archdiocese to save money and to accommodate the priest shortage. We do not know yet whether this reorganization will serve us in doing the Church’s mission. We have been told that it is in the service of mission but it is not immediately obvious how that is so. Our intent is to organize ourselves to act responsibly during the reorganization process.
Click here to read the keynote address.