Diocesan Synodal Journey Update

While the third session of our Diocesan Synod originally planned for 20 November has been postponed, there is still plenty happening in this space! The Synod Working Party continues to meet on a regular basis, and a number of plans are underway.

In order to walk together, the Church today needs a conversion to the synodal experience. It needs to strengthen a culture of dialogue, reciprocal listening, spiritual discernment, consensus and communion in order to find areas and ways of joint decision-making and to respond to pastoral challenges. In this way, co-responsibility in the life of the Church will be fostered in a spirit of service….Synodality is a constitutive dimension of the Church. We cannot be Church without recognising a real practice of the sensus fidei of all the People of God. (Amazonian Synod n. 88)

With this in mind, I will update you on our continuing synodal engagement with the Catholic Church in our Diocese, in Australia and globally.

Church without Walls series | November 2021 - May 2022

‘Church without Walls’ is an invitation to the whole community to encounter the stories of mission and outreach that take place across our diocese every single day. Even in these difficult times, people of faith are responding to the good news of Jesus Christ and are working towards transforming people’s lives, and indeed, the whole of society. This is the mission that every one of us has a part in. Yet, each of us lives out this mission in a personal and unique way.

‘Church without Walls’ will take us into the stories of people from all across the diocese. We will go into our parishes, our schools and our agencies. We will travel from Lake Macquarie to Taree. We will hear from people of all ages. We will hear the stories of everyday people making a difference right where they are. We will hear about what they do and why they do it.

View our Church without Walls series here.

Plenary Council Virtual Feedback Conversations | 22 November 2021

Join our Diocesan Plenary Council members Helen Belcher, Fr Andrew Doohan, Bernadette Gibson, who participated in the First General Assembly of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia.

Over the coming weeks the fruits from this First General Assembly will be shared with the Catholic community.

Bernadette, Helen and Fr Andrew will provide us with feedback about the Plenary Council.

Find out more about this event here.

Bishop's Synod on Synodality | November 2021 - February 2022

In March 2020, Pope Francis announced that the theme for the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops would be “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission”.

The journey towards the celebration of the Synod in October 2023 was opened at the beginning of October 2021 in Rome, and subsequently in each particular Church.
Pope Francis invites the entire Church to reflect on a theme that is decisive for its life and mission: “It is precisely this path of synodality which God expects of the Church of the third millennium. This journey, which follows in the wake of the Church’s ‘renewal’ proposed by the Second Vatican Council, is both a gift and a task.”

A video, documents, and a response button can be found on: https://www.catholic.org.au/synodalchurch

It is anticipated that individuals will engage in reflecting, sharing, and responding. Follow the Individual Reflection Guide. Submissions are invited via the website by 17 December.

Our 10-page final diocesan contribution is due to the National Centre for Pastoral Research by 28 February, 2022.

Advent Reflection Program (Mystagogical Reflection) | November 2021 - December 2021

As we continue our Synodal journey, an Advent resource Waiting with Purpose has been created for our Diocese. Waiting with Purpose responds to the voices heard during Synod reflections of longing for different forms of prayer that include faith sharing. Waiting with Purpose invites us to use Mystagogical Reflection as our way of encountering Christ in the Advent gospels. It invites us to focus on the presence of Christ in our experience and in the living tradition of our faith, to connect it to life now and to be changed by it.

Mystagogical reflection meets us where we are. No preparation is needed. It’s about being open to encountering Christ so we can live from Christ. It’s deeply personal and communal.

During Advent, our hope is that anyone and everyone will gather a circle of people to reflect on the Advent gospels using Waiting with Purpose, our diocesan Advent Reflection Resource.  

Parishes and schools may like to schedule some gatherings to capture those who are not able to form a group. Pastoral Ministries will host four such opportunities across each week of Advent

For more information on this event series, visit: www.eventbrite.com.au/o/diocese-of-maitland-newcastle-18080128129

Other Key Dates

February 2022 Expression of Interest for Members of Synod (Interested People)
February 2022 Plenary Council - Continuing Conversations
March 2022 - April 2022 Lenten Reflection Program - Five Foundations (Mystagogical Reflection)
Pentecost - 5 June 2022 Launch of Five Foundations Synod Spiritual Conversations (Virtual and face-to-face)
4-9 July 2022 Plenary Council - Second General Assembly
November 2021 - 2022 'Hearing the voices' series - engaging with people from diverse communities

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