In January, several members of the Ignatian family met to discuss the Synod on Synodality. “How can we enhance and complement what is already happening, and how can we reach out to various groups?” asked Father Gilles Mongeau, SJ, the facilitator. Norbert Piché, Élisabeth Garant, André Courchesne, John O’Brien, SJ, Laurence Loubières, XMCJ, Hendrikus Van Meijel, SJ, Andrée Richard, CLC, and John Meehan, SJ, shared their thoughts and ideas about the synodal process in their respective contexts.
The Synod on Synodality is thus a unique opportunity to plant seeds at the level of the universal Church and for the universal Church.
In brief, the roundtable participants emphasized the importance of reflecting on synodality within our own structures and also of using the gifts of Ignatian spirituality to aid in discernment regarding the synodal process within our networks and on the peripheries. The Synod on Synodality is thus a unique opportunity to plant seeds at the level of the universal Church and for the universal Church.
Members of the Ignatian family, through the tools and gifts of our spirituality, are uniquely positioned to act as intermediaries with groups on the periphery of the Church. The example of young people came up several times in the discussion. How can we reach them? Various ideas were put forward, such as holding a forum for teenagers/young adults or using existing networks (schools, the Future of the Social Gospel group, the Commission on Education, etc.) as places where their voices can be heard and communicated.
Members of the Ignatian family can also, through their own networks, help people in general to nurture their understanding of faith, for example through initiating discussions to explore the issues raised by the Synod (using the tools offered by the Service for Discernment in Common).
The idea of reading groups, proposed by Father John O’Brien, generated a lot of interest as a way to reach out to a variety of people and give them tools to reflect more deeply on their place in the Church. This idea could be taken up by the sectors and apostolates of the province: the intellectual sector, retreat centres, the social justice sector, etc.
A long-term process
“There is nothing to stop us from being creative and setting up long-term processes to promote synodality. We don’t have to wait until 2024 to act as a synodal Church, to become who we are,” said Sister Laurence. Father John Meehan noted that, indeed, we have already embarked on the path of synodality.
Roundtable participants affirmed that the Synod on Synodality is a process that invites us to long-term reflection, even after the consultation period. Élisabeth Garant added, “It is a time to plant seeds, to try new things, to do substantive work in our institutions, and to experiment.”
The Synod is an opportunity to be self-critical regarding our own institutions, our communities, and our works. Father Gilles proposed some questions to guide us: “Where are our energies directed? Where are we in terms of the conversion necessary for synodality?” Thus, at the level of the province and of the sectors, the Synod affirms Pilgrims Together even as it invites us to continue the journey towards synodality.