Frequently Asked Questions
What will happen at a parish level?
Parishioners will be invited to participate in a series of meetings. At these meetings there will be prayer, reflection and discussion on a number of set questions and a record will be kept of the content of the discussions.
Why are we being asked to reflect on Questions?
Reflecting on questions can be a powerful way of generating effective conversations that can open up new thinking and lead to new ways of engaging with our tasks and the world. Solutions to the questions do not have to be arrived at by the end of the conversations
What is the purpose of this?
The purpose is to create a context that allows God through His Spirit to articulate what he wants from his Church at this time? It’s a process of discernment of God’s Will
How is this discernment achieved?
It is achieved by listening to God in prayer, reflecting on his Word in Scripture, and in listening to one another deeply
What does listening to one another deeply involve?
An account of what is involved in listening deeply is available on pages 15 and 16 of the document “Simply Synod” on the diocesan website. See also Bite Size Video 4 on the diocesan website. In a nutshell one listens deeply when one tries to stand in the shoes of the other, and understand how the other has come to hold the views they hold. It is not about debating or arguing for one’s point of view. You can view the Simply Synod Resource HERE
Who will organise these gatherings?
The gatherings will be organised by specially chosen and trained animators
What is an animator?
An account of the role of an animator, what abilities they need to have and how they will be trained and supported is available HERE. Animators, in collaboration with parish teams and parish pastoral councils, will organize the gatherings of people that will listen to God’s Word, pray and listen to each other’s experience.
Who can participate?
All the baptised, and Pope Francis is very anxious that those who are on the margins be invited and that they participate by those on the margins he means those on the edges of the Christian community because of personal, social, economic, cultural or political reasons.
Why is the Pope so anxious to involve those on the edges or peripheries?
He does not want the experience to be one of “group-think” which is always hazardous and because is through the blending of very different perspectives and viewpoints that breakthroughs often occur
What about those who are shy, lacking in confidence, very elderly, — how can the meetings be made safe for them?
The animators will take every step to organise the meetings in a way that feels safe and comfortable for participants, especially for those who might be concerned
Is this process like a consumer survey? The church getting the views of service users so it can make itself more attractive to modern people?
Definitely not, no this process is about discerning what God wants at this time from His People, in fact some of what emerges might be very challenging for many of us
How then will all of this make a difference?
It will make a difference in several ways. Those who participate in the prayer, reflection and conversation, and share the views of others, will likely come away from the gatherings enriched and with mindsets broadened. When reports of the meetings are collated at diocesan, national and international levels, a range of insights and recommendations will emerge that hopefully will enable the worldwide Christian community to sense what God wants from them. In all of this we must of course trust the Holy Spirit to be with us and bring us to where He wants us to be
Will the results of the deliberations be filtered and sanitised?
No every effort will be made to convey what happened at meetings accurately, honestly and fairly