Parishioners ranging in age from 19 to 87 came together across six sites, including Hamilton, Mayfield, Booragul, Maitland, Aberdeen, and Taree to have their say on a variety of issues affecting our community.
These issues included women in leadership, homelessness, care for the environment, communication, cultural diversity, protection for the marginalised, including refugees, interfaith dialogue, and youth engagement.
In attendance was Director of CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning, Gary Christensen, who described the Synod as an important part of the fabric and culture of our Diocese.
“I think the Synod has been inclusive and participatory, and I think the voting shows there is a real appetite for change across the Diocese. I’m looking forward to seeing how that’s implemented after the third session in November this year.”
One of the Synod recommendations, which particularly struck a note with him, was the commitment to listen to and ‘embrace the spiritual, ecological, and cultural wisdom of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’.
“I think it’s incredibly important that we acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander spirituality in liturgy,” he said.
“The reason being, Aboriginal people were the first persons of this land, they have a deep spiritual connection to the land and the sea, and it’s imperative that we embrace that spirituality as a sign of respect. But also as an acknowledgment of the overrepresentation of Aboriginal people in the justice system and the children out-of-home-care system. Acknowledging it in liturgy brings it to the forefront of our mind and helps us make the changes we need in our attitudes and practices to ensure we are helping our Indigenous brothers and sisters.”
As part of the special occasion, synod members, participants, and interested persons were also given the opportunity to reflect, and hear from theologians, our Canon Lawyer and Bishop Bill.
Director of Pastoral Ministries, Teresa Brierley, described the landmark event as a wonderful experience of the people of our Diocese gathering to reflect the moment of the Spirit and to affirm the Five Foundations as our spiritual framework.
“I found the day to be very prayerful as we invoked the Holy Spirit to guide us and give us the courage to imagine what might be while being attentive to our past,” she said.
“I recognise that what we are being called to is being revealed as we walk together. This is not a comfortable journey for many because it involves trusting other fellow pilgrims along the way.”
Following this second session, the Diocese will adopt 'Statements of Intent' regarding desired outcomes emerging from parishioner feedback.
At the third session of Synod on 20 November 2021, there will be voting on a variety of ‘Proposals for Action’. If adopted, these proposals become recommendations to the Bishop for his consideration as possible actions appropriate to the needs of the Diocese.
To read more about our Diocese’s second Synod, view TUESDAYS WITH TERESA: Come Holy Spirit Come.