TUESDAYS WITH TERESA: Reflecting for the Synod on Synodality

The routine of the new year has now begun, with its ensuing commitments of work, school for some, study for others, caring for children and loved ones and the general busyness of life.

In the liturgical cycle over the past few weeks, we have been listening to the Gospel of Mark, with Jesus calling his apostles to follow him. They were an unlikely bunch of men and yet they were whom he called. They are a bit like us, an unlikely group who God is calling, by name.

As we journey through this Markan year, I invite us to focus on what God’s call to us, to be missionary disciples, looks like. In just over one week, we will begin our Lenten Season and so our focus will be sharpened on God’s call, to us as individuals and as a community of disciples.

You may recall towards the end of last year I reflected on the Synthesis Report from the First Assembly of the Synod on Synodality. We are now being invited to participate in the consultative phase (1 February to 30 March) in preparation for the Second Assembly which will be held later this year.

We are being asked to aim for the widest participation possible, determining “what is possible in the time available and the best approach to take”. The question to be pondered is:

How can we enhance the differentiated co-responsibility in the mission of all the members of the People of God?

This is a How question. Group reflections are guided by the theme of being a synodal Church. The goal is to identify the paths we can follow and the tools we might adopt, in different contexts and circumstances, to enhance the unique contribution of each baptised person and of each Church in the one mission of proclaiming the Risen Lord and his Gospel to the world today.

The National Centre for Pastoral Research (NCPR) has prepared a Reflection Guide to assist groups with this process. The guide includes the key reflection questions, as well as information on the chapters of the Synthesis Report that are pertinent to the discussion. The Reflection Guide is also available from the Synod website, located here:  https://catholic.org.au/synodalchurch.

Responses from each group reflection will be sent to me, the Diocesan Contact Person, and I will be responsible for preparing the Diocesan Summary. Dioceses are also invited to provide a brief Testimony of work done and experiences of synodality, including any best practices that they consider significant.

The period for diocesan consultations will run from 1 February to 30 March 2024.

This is a very limited timeframe. However, the remaining time will allow dioceses to compile and submit their summary reports to the NCPR, and to allow us to prepare and submit the National Report to the General Secretariat by the deadline of 15 May 2024. The Diocesan Report needs to be submitted by 19 April.

Please consider forming a group and following the Reflection Guide, and then submitting to me the main points from your conversation. I believe our diocese has been on a significant synodal journey for the past 30 years. We have shared and have learnt a great deal. Our Diocesan Summary Report is to be no more than 8 pages.

Please contact me if you would like a printed or electronic version of a copy of the Synthesis Report and the Reflection Guide. Electronic versions have also been sent to each parish.

There are 20 chapters in the Synthesis Report, with seven of those recommended for our focus. I believe that some groups may wish to choose one of the chapters for prayer and reflection, while others may wish to explore multiple chapters. 

I think it is in the process of reading and reflecting, and then sitting with each other in prayer, listening and sharing, that we continue to learn about the synodal way. We are learning to speak from the heart. I hope there is at least one group in each parish who will take up this invitation to engage in the next phase of the Synod on Synodality.

Please pray the following prayer:

Prayer for the Synod: 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.


I look forward to hearing from you about the groups you have formed, and receiving your feedback.

I am also looking forward to seeing you at our Diocesan Launch of Project Compassion which will take place at the Cathedral on Tuesday 13 February at 10.30am, followed by pancakes.

Thanks for reconnecting with us after the Christmas break and for seeking to be companions as missionary disciples.

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Teresa Brierley Image
Teresa Brierley

Teresa Brierley is Director Pastoral Ministries of the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.