Journeying Together Towards 2023

Fr Leonard E Dollentas

A synod is a council of a church, usually convened to decide an issue of doctrine, administration or application. 

The two Greek words that make up “synod” are syn, meaning “together” and hodos, meaning “way or journey.” Pope Francis wants this 2023 synodal path to be a shared journey, a journey of listening, reflection, and discernment. 

In his address at the opening of the Synod of Bishops on Young People on 3 of October 2018, Pope Francis said that the purpose of the Synod, and of the consultation, is not to produce documents, but “to plant dreams, draw forth prophecies and visions, allow hope to flourish, inspire trust, bind up wounds, weave together relationships, awaken a dawn of hope, learn from one another and create a bright resourcefulness that will enlighten minds, warm hearts, give strength to our hands.” 

The Holy Father’s sincere desire is that we undertake this path hand in hand so that we all might grow together through this concrete experience of solidarity. He has also exhorted the faithful of the church to remain open to everything that comes from the local churches. 

In the Diocese of Macau, other activities will follow the opening phase and we will embark, just like other local churches, on a journey with the universal Church. 

As the preparatory document says: “The proclamation of the Gospel is not addressed only to an enlightened or chosen few. Jesus’ interlocutor is the ‘people’ of ordinary life, the ‘everyone’ of the human condition, whom he puts directly in contact with God’s gift and the call to salvation.” 

The opening phase in our diocese was presided over by Bishop Stephen Lee, with a solemn Eucharistic Celebration on the 16th of October at the Cathedral. 

The synodal journey will be undertaken in three phases. 

Phase 1, from October 2021 to April 2022, focuses on the local church.  

Phase 2, from September 2022 to March 2023, will focus on the continents.  

Phase 3 will be the Universal Phase of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in October of 2023. 

The purpose of the first phase of the synodal journey which is scheduled to run for six months from October 2021 to April 2022 “is to foster a broad consultation process in order to gather the wealth of the experiences of lived Synodality, in its different articulations and facets, involving the pastors and the faithful of the particular Churches at all the different levels,” the preparatory document says. 

Hence, we as members of the Church, have a major role to play.  It begins with awareness of the importance of this event and transmit that awareness to others. 

As the preparatory document mentioned, the decision to “journey together” is a prophetic sign for the human family, which needs a shared project capable of pursuing the good of all. In order to “journey together,” we need to let ourselves be educated by the Spirit to a truly synodal mentality.  

Journeying together through the synod means participating and praying for the success of events. This means participating in the events and reflecting on the theme, participating in the pre-synodal meetings and participating in the consultation by responding to the questionnaire (maybe some will be asked to take part in this process). Finally, we are invited to participate in the Thanksgiving Mass. 

As we submit the final synthesis to the general secretariat, let us fervently pray that this journey will be very fruitful and an enriching experience for the universal Church. (Photo by Ivan Leong)