Archbishop Lori opens local synod planning phase for church renewal


Catholics pray during mass on October 17, 2021 at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart on Mount Washington which marked the opening of synod planning for church renewal. (Rick Lippenholz / Catholic Review Special)

When Pope Francis called for a world synod to discuss the future of the church, he asked Catholics to be flexible, Archbishop William E. Lori noted on October 17 as he began mass initiating the archdiocesan phase of the process.

“It looks like it’s already happening,” the Archbishop noted at the Mount Washington Shrine of the Sacred Heart. The flexibility in question came from the fact that Mass was moved at the last minute from its planned location at Marie-Notre-Reine Cathedral and postponed for 30 minutes due to an overnight power outage at the cathedral.

Pope Francis has launched the preparations from October 9 to 10 in the Vatican for the World Synod of Bishops, which will take place in 2023. On the theme – “For a Synodal Church: communion, participation, mission” – the Church will ask for the contribution dioceses around the world, with most of the bishops having initiated the local listening process on October 17th. The diocesan phase will last until April 2022.

Archbishop William E. Lori delivers his homily at the opening Mass on October 17, 2021 for synod planning at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart on Mount Washington. (Rick Lippenholz / Catholic Review Special)

The Archbishop admitted that he had received a lot of questions about what a synod is, and whether it is not just a lot of meetings to talk about meetings.

He said that a synod is more than just a large church meeting, but that the word comes from Greek roots which evoke “a journey we take together – not a journey from one physical destination to another, but rather a journey of spirit, heart and spirit that brings us together.

He noted that the church’s first synod was the Council of Jerusalem, described in the Acts of the Apostles. Other examples of synods include the three plenary councils of Baltimore in the 19th century in which the bishops of the United States made decisions about the practice of the faith in that country.

Synodality refers to the “habits of the heart” that allow fruitful discussions, said Bishop Lori.

“On several occasions, I participated in intense discussions which led to wise results, results that none of the participants anticipated and which exceeded the personal wisdom of each participant,” he explained. . “It’s synodality!

He said these habits include fervent prayer for worthy discernment, fidelity to the authentic Catholic faith, and the acquisition of the virtues necessary for a true Christian.

“The path to synodality, to walk together in faith and in mission, is not easy”, declared the Archbishop. “As this process unfolds, we can become more aware of what divides us. However, if we are open to the Holy Spirit, who reminds us of all that Christ taught us, we will find new paths towards understanding, towards harmony, cooperation and unity, towards the co-responsibility of mission of the Church, coupled with renewed apostolic vigor. “

Mount St. Mary’s seminarians Daniel Dionesotes, left to right, Joseph Wolhenberger, Archbishop William E. Lori, and Mount St. Mary’s Seminary Rector, Monsignor Andrew Baker, pause for a photo after mass opening for synod planning on October 17, 2021 at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart on Mount Washington. (Kevin J. Parks / CR staff)

Auxiliary Bishop Bruce A. Lewandowski, C.Ss.R., and Jenny Kraska, executive director of the Maryland Catholic Conference, will lead the organizing committee for the Archdiocesan Synod. In an interview ahead of the synod’s launch for Catholic Review Radio, Bishop Lewandowski also acknowledged the divide within church and society.

He said Catholics are good in mind, hands and heart to be Christians – knowing and thinking, serving others and loving the church. Pope Francis calls on Catholics to add to this by hearing or listening.

“If you could imagine the church as one big ear, and the idea is just to listen,” Bishop Lewandowski said. “I think it is not wrong or unintentional that this is happening in our world right now, when there is such polarization across the world and such polarization in the church.”

He said the polarization comes from people not listening to each other because they have very different opinions.

“We are asked – as different as we are, as polarized as it may sound – to come together and truly listen to us with respect, kindness and charity to listen to us and be open to gifts and power. of the Spirit as we do it to see where it might lead.

The bishop said the Archdiocese has created a page on the Archdiocese’s website ( with resources for parishes and individuals. The Catholic Center teams will be the first to go through a process of guided synodal reflection before the same is done in parishes, where people from all walks of life will be encouraged to participate.

Sacred Heart, Glyndon, Parishioner Mario Jeronimo, takes a selfie with Archbishop William E. Lori after the opening Mass on October 17, 2021 for synod planning at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart on Mount Washington. (Kevin J. Parks / CR staff)

“It will also have to extend beyond this parish group to people who feel estranged from the church, to people who think the church has hurt or offended them, to people who feel hurt by the church.” , said Bishop Lewandowski. “It will be a challenge to determine how we will extend the listening sessions beyond the walls of the parish. It is said very clearly in the preparatory documents that if you only do this with your parish council, you have not done the work because it has to extend beyond the parish to the outskirts.

He said the synod preparatory documents note that by listening we spend time with the future, and it is important not to focus solely on today’s issues.

It is also about what the Holy Spirit could do in us, with us, through us as we move forward as a church, ”said the bishop.

“We shouldn’t just focus on structures,” Bishop Lewandowski said. “We shouldn’t just focus on our own opinions, thoughts and ideas, our own ideologies. We shouldn’t just focus on the present. We should – in and by listening – try to hear and perceive where God might be calling us to move forward as a church.

Bishop Bruce Lewandowski, C.Ss.R., speaks with parishioners of the Shrine of the Sacred Heart after the opening Mass on October 17, 2021 for synod planning at Mount Washington. (Kevin J. Parks / CR staff)

For the launch of the synod at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart, representatives of the parishes of the Archdiocese of Baltimore joined the parishioners who were there for a regular Sunday Mass.

Ana Martinez and her husband Fredy Duran, with their two young daughters, came from St. Joseph to Cockeysville to participate in the mass and the conversation. Martinez hopes the synod will renew the church and help it “to be more open to the inclusion of everyone, so that those who have been estranged from the church will feel welcome to be a part of the church” .

From the parish of the Sacred Heart of Glyndon, Mario Jeronimo said that the synod is very important. “I hope our community will be more united and closer to God.”

Email Christopher Gunty at [email protected]

For more information on synod planning in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, click here.

Click play below to watch a recorded live broadcast of Mass on October 17, 2021 at the Sanctuary of the Sacred Heart.

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