2nd Sunday of Advent. During the Christmas shopping season it is easy to get caught up in the frenzy of buying gifts. But, is that “gift” truly an expression of your love for the other person. Or, are you just fulfilling your “obligation” to give them something? To grow in friendship with someone, you need to spend time with them, learn what is of value to them. Maybe this year, buy less “stuff” and spend more time with those you love.
Our theme last week was hope. This week let’s focus on love. for example, it was great to gather together with the church this week – both clergy and laity. our local Deanery gathered together in Cornwall this week in person! it was amazing to share a beautiful lunch, a meal cooked by Fr. Tom Riopelle at St. Colomban’s. then we shared our own synodal journey, discerning how the Holy Spirit is calling us to journey with each other as brothers in the Archdiocese, and to journey with our parishioners in our parishes. we discussed Sacramental Preparation, Christmas Masses, and the difficulty of getting volunteers. we also continued the difficult conversation about possible church closures in the next five, ten or twenty plus years, especially how this could affect our Alexandria and Cornwall part of the Archdiocese. Come Holy Spirit.
what is this Synod process all about? i was joyful to gather with the Archdiocese via Zoom on Thursday night to officially start this first phase.
simply put, the Synod process is about listening to each other. however, we have not always done a good job of this in the Church.
again, we listened to each other as brothers in our Deanery on Thursday. our brothers shared their joys, but also some shared some sorrows in their ministry too. the question for all of us, is indeed how does your heart ache for the Church, what is our next steps together? the season of Advent is a season of Hope, and God is working in our hearts, families, and parishes! Come Holy Spirit.
Thursday night via ZOOM, there were 34 participants discussing what the Synod is all about, and how to go about it in our Archdiocese. thanks again to Marilyn Bergeron and Ted Hurley for hosting! it was great! again, the Synod is a process of listening, and we have not always done a good job as a Church. a few examples mentioned to the facilitators on the call involved Sacramental Preparation. for example, during Marriage Preparation, we are busy walking with couples before, and during the Sacrament, but forget about them after the wedding day. we discussed the ongoing difficulty of reaching out to our seniors who were isolated during this past year. indeed, some of our brothers and sisters in palliative care at the hospital were not allowed visitors this past year.
the Synod process invites us to listen to our brothers and sisters, in and outside the Church. how can we as Church journey better with our parishioners? how can our parishes, movements and groups journey with those in the Church, and outside? we need to be prepared to listen to their joys, and their sorrows. we all need encouragement, and improvement with this process. let’s pay attention when people are sharing their stories
this Synod process will invite many groups to begin this journey with others – a reality that is already taking place in many of our groups. for example, i’ll be reaching out to our schools, within Sacramental Preparation, CWL and KofC, and our different parish ministries.
again, Wednesday night we started this process with our NGP Pastoral Council. different leaders from each parish gathered at Maison Shalom House to listen to one another, and to discern how God continues to call us to mission.
the three keys of the Synod are Communion, Participation, and Mission. again, i enjoyed sharing communion this week with the NGP Pastoral Council. we participated in prayer, listening, and lectio divina. and the Holy Spirit moved us to “go out into the deep”, and to mission!
for example, we discerned different ways to encourage new volunteers to share their gifts, talents and treasures. we mentioned coffee Sundays again, and talked about our different possible fundraisers! i’m also thinking about possible name tag Sundays, and prayer partners at Mass, or how about ping pong tournaments, or a back yard ice hockey rink at Maison Shalom House! i’ll need help on all this.
however, at the end of our NGP Pastoral Council Wednesday night our team discerned that we wanted to refocus our efforts on hospitality, and to be intentional at welcoming our brothers and sisters into the church! indeed, please be prepared to see a few new greeters at all our parishes in the next few weeks. let’s get ready to welcome new families Home during Advent, and for Christmas! please stay tuned for more details regarding the Synod process in our parishes, and in the Archdiocese of Ottawa-Cornwall.
one question that comes up regarding the Synod is what happens after all this is over? this process will help us journey together, to grow in communion with God, and with one another. it will affect our decisions moving forward. it will affect who we will hire in our parishes, it will strengthen our communities, just as our ALPHA team again has done a beautiful job this year! as was mentioned Wednesday night with our NGP Pastoral Council, our overall goal is not necessarily the report we will be providing to the Archdiocese in May 2022 (though i am already taking notes, and look forward in talking with you all), but rather the invitation to the mission for our parishes, and to improve our community together. Come Holy Spirit.
have a great week. peace.