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Missionaries of Synodality

Five months before the opening of the Synod 2024, two hundred parish priests from around the world gathered in Sacrofano, outside of Rome, for a five-day international meeting dedicated to the question of "How to be a local synodal Church on Mission."  

The meeting came in response to the desire expressed by the Synod Fathers in October last year to "develop ways for a more active involvement of deacons, priests, and bishops in the synodal process."  

Fr. Kurukulasuriya Anton Jude Raj Fernando from the Archdiocese of Colombo, Sri Lanka, expressed the importance of this meeting, saying, "We shared our stories. We shared our experiences, different experiences, different stories. And with that, sharing the stories, we learn lessons. This means that the Church is still alive, that the Church is not dead. Even though the world is in crisis, even though some part of the Church is in crisis, the Church is alive."  

The United States was represented by five priests, including Fr. Clinton Ressler from the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.  

Fr. Ressler shared, "The feeling of getting to know other priests and their realities, and seeing how much we have in common with all the diverse kinds of situations, there are, and yet probably that experience of being a priest on the front lines in the trenches, is kind of a universal experience: the joy, the sorrow, the hope, that experience of being together with other pastors."  

Organized by the General Secretariat of the Synod and the Dicastery for the Clergy, the meeting featured five days of discussions, prayer, and discernment.  

Speaking to EWTN News, Fr. Luis Marín De San Martín, Undersecretary of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, emphasized the importance of parish priests in this synodal journey.   

"Synodality," he said, "like any reform process, starts from the bottom. It is an authentic process that seeks a coherent church, united to Christ, experiencing Christ. This is an experience of communion, and it brings Christ into the midst of the world through evangelization."  

At the end of the meeting, the participants met with Pope Francis, who sent a letter to all the parish priests attending the international gathering, inviting them to be missionaries of synodality not only among themselves but also with their fellow parish priests back home.   

Fr. Harry Quaedvlieg from the Diocese of Roermond, Holland, underscored the importance of this meeting with the Holy Father, sharing, "What was very comforting is that he listened to many questions of parish priests in the assembly, and he answered them like a parish priest, with the wisdom and the love for the people, as has a parish priest. And that feeling to recognize each other in this mission or this standing in the Church was already comforting."  

The meeting outcomes will contribute to the draft of the Instrumentum Laboris, the working document for the Second Session of the Synodal Assembly, which will take place in Rome in October 2024.  

Adapted by Jacob Stein 

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