This weekend, Bishop Marcus has issued a Pastoral Letter detailing how ALL members of our Diocesan Family can shape the future of the Catholic Church here in the Diocese of Leeds – and by doing so, we can also contribute to the Holy Father’s plans for a worldwide Synod of Bishops he will convene in Rome in 2023.
We’re listening locally …
As detailed in our 2020 Annual Review, at the September 2019 meeting of the Pastoral Council, the Bishop asked Fr Martin Kelly to co-ordinate a ‘listening project’ involving all the clergy, laity and schools across the many parishes which together comprise our ONE Diocese. Fr Martin’s introductory paper From Parish to Mission is available to read and download here. The pandemic put our plans on hold, although preparations continued and on 4 May 2021, Bishop Marcus published his Discernment of a Pastoral Plan for the Diocese of Leeds, to help inform clergy in advance about the forthcoming parish discussions.
… and across the Universal Church …
We are very happy to announce that serendipitously, on 20 May this year, Pope Francis published his own mandate for a similar process to take place across the Universal Church, with the results forming the basis for discussion at the 2023 Synod of Bishops. The Holy Father’s ‘listening process’ is entitled For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, Mission. As ‘synod’ simply means ‘journeying together along the same path’, this is his call for us all to make our views known to our Bishop at the local level on how we can ‘journey together’ toward achieving the mission we all share in common as Catholics: to spread the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Learn more about it …
Available to read or download is the Preparatory Document for the Synod of Bishops which has just this week been created by the Synod Office in Rome and sent to all bishops. This document (also available in other formats and for the visually impaired – see links below) contains a series of questions to prompt and guide the faithful and a simplified version will shortly be made available on this website.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW) has also issued a Timeline and a useful set of FAQs about what this Synodal process is – and what it is not. The timetable of the process of prayer and listening will be based around the questions from the Holy See and will be launched with a Mass celebrated by Bishop Marcus at Leeds Cathedral on Sunday 17 October 2021, after which the window of opportunity for lay faithful to contribute to the information-gathering will be open until the end of January 2022.
It is the Bishop’s wish ‘… for all voices to be heard, therefore there will be a parallel listening process taking place in our schools and with the various pastoral organisations in the diocese, as well as more focused and in-depth consultations with various groupings within our diocesan family such as young people, the elderly, parents, persons living with special needs, and the lapsed. This part of our diocesan process will continue into the Spring of 2022.’
As this first stage of the process for the Synod of Bishops now coincides with our own diocesan plans, there is a clear synergy between the two and, therefore, in our diocese they will be organised as a single process. Please direct all enquires about the joint Diocesan and Synodal process ‘From Parish to Mission’ to the following dedicated email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Have YOUR say …
ALL constructive views will actively be sought by specially-trained facilitators and noted down during ‘listening sessions’ to be held as events in each of our parishes. For those unable to make the in-person events, there will still be an opportunity for you to make your views and ideas known on how we live our faith and spread the Good News to others, as a new dedicated page on this Diocesan website is currently being created and will be coming soon with a web-form for written submissions.
As this is a huge piece of work which is dependent on ALL Catholics coming forward to make their voices heard, it is being co-ordinated in parishes by Fr Martin Kelly with the help of Deans and Parish Priests, with Youth Co-ordinator Jessica Wilkinson and The Twelve seeking participation with young people and schools.
… after taking time to pray …
Bishop Marcus has said, ‘An effective listening process is rooted in meditation on Sacred Scripture, the liturgy, and prayer. Only in this way can our journey of truly listening to one another throughout the diocese be an authentic experience of discerning the voice of the Holy Spirit.’
The prayer Adsumus Sancte Spiritus (‘We stand before You, Holy Spirit’) has historically been used at Councils, Synods and other Church gatherings for hundreds of years, and is attributed to Saint Isidore of Seville (c. 560 – 4 April 636). Diocese of Leeds Youth have designed a colourful prayer card containing that prayer, which they will shortly make available for all to use in seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance in this and in all things.
Adsumus Sancte Spiritus
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.