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Willing to serve

More than 600 commissioned for Synod teams at Mass opening Year of Faith in archdiocese

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Archbishop Thomas Wenski talks with Synod focus team members before the start of the Mass.


Archbishop Thomas Wenski talks with Synod focus team members before the start of the Mass.

MIAMI | Marie Marino knows what Synod focus team she will be serving on the one on the priesthood.

It may seem strange that a lay woman would be selected for that team, but Marino does seem like an expert on the subject. Her son is Father Chris Marino, rector of St. Mary Cathedral.

“I’ve gone through Father Marino’s 20 years as a priest, his nine years at the seminary and many seminarians as guests who turned into priests. I’m more than sympathetic with the problems they have today in their lifestyle,” said Marino as she sat in the front pew of the cathedral Oct. 13 waiting for the start of the Mass that would kick off the Year of Faith in the archdiocese and at the same time commission her and about 600 others to serve on the Synod focus teams.

Like many of those in the cathedral that evening, Marino had not exactly volunteered to serve on a focus team. “I was recommended. I never volunteered,” she said.

Unlike many of the others, however, she at least knew what focus team she would be serving on.

“They haven’t told me,” said Raymond Felipe of Annunciation Church in West Hollywood. He is a former Catholic school principal who now teaches economics and also served as a missionary in the Ukraine. So he put down he would be willing to serve on teams dealing with overseas missions, Church finances or education.

“The archbishop called and I’m honored,” said Andy Gomez, special assistant for international affairs at the University of Miami and senior fellow at UM’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies. He said he was interested in serving on the team that will study the social mission of the Church, “which I think is crucial, or education, which is even more important.”

“I don’t know (what team I will serve on) because I like everything so much,” said Silvia Galan of St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Miami, sister of the late bishop of Brownsville, Texas, Cuban born Enrique San Pedro. Galan has been a catechist for 16 years and said she is interested in life issues, Church doctrine, liturgy and religious life.

“I received this (faith) so I have to give it away,” she said of her willingness to serve.

Galan did not take part in the first archdiocesan Synod, which took place from 1985 to 1988. “I think I was having children, so at that time I couldn’t do much,” she noted. “I wasn’t planning on doing it (now) but then I got the call.”

To mark the Year of Faith in the archdiocese, the archbishop has designated four churches as sites where the faithful may obtain plenary indulgences “by participation in the holy Mass on Sundays of the year and on other solemnities of the Lord.” Those churches are:
  • St. Mary Cathedral in Miami
  • The National Shrine of Our Lady of Charity in Miami
  • Our Lady of Mercy Church in Deerfield Beach
  • The Minor Basilica of St. Mary Star of the Sea in Key West
In addition to attendance at Sunday Mass at those churches, those wishing to obtain a plenary indulgence must also go to confession, receive the Eucharist and pray for the intentions of Pope Benedict XVI.

Plenary indulgences are granted for the “temporal punishment of sins” — that is, time in purgatory and also are applicable to the souls of the faithful deceased. The Year of Faith runs from Oct. 11, 2012 to Nov. 24, 2013.
Marilé Lopez of Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Miami also got a call from Archbishop Thomas Wenski and Sister Elizabeth Worley, the archdiocese’s chancellor for administration. Lopez is not sure why they called her, other than that she is a practicing Catholic with five children who have all gone to archdiocesan schools.

Aside from their involvement with their parish and their children’s schools, she and her husband also are involved in civic groups. Being a member of a Synod focus team will require monthly meetings between now and February and plenty of homework in between. Lopez said she will find the time. 

“It’s a commitment to your faith. The length of time is irrelevant. We can’t just serve in other aspects of our community — political, social — and when we are asked by our parish to serve we put a time limit on it? We’re committed. It’s a lifetime,” Lopez said.

She said her hope for the archdiocese’s second general Synod is to see “change that would bring young people into our faith, that will explain to them the true meaning of our faith, which is the love of God and the love of Jesus.” 

She added that change need not be radical but “fundamental. Listen to the word of God and come back.”

Her words echoed precisely those of Archbishop Wenski’s homily: “To be a disciple is to learn the art of living; to be a missionary is to share that life with our brethren. During this Year of Faith, the Holy Father reminds us that as we go forth as a pilgrim people, walking through the deserts of today’s world, that all that is necessary is the Gospel, the Gospel of the faith of the Church.”

“All things are possible for God,” he added. “With our faith and the hope it brings, we will be able to face the challenges of the present with enthusiasm and to prepare for the challenges of the future with confidence and hope.”

Comments from readers

Susana Pëna - 10/17/2012 01:18 PM
I could not go to the Mass on Saturday due to a a sudden but thanks God passing illness. I was so frustrated, but now I hope I could be any help. even as a small grain of sand in any of the areas that I be designated because the more I read and think about it I can't but feel blessed for this is a historic and ever growing faith filled time.
Jose Angel Chaviano - 10/17/2012 12:36 PM
It is a real honor to be a participant in this so important and vital activity in our catholic faith. To me, the opportunity to serve in any of the areas, is a tremendous gift that may all of us very proud and humble it. May God bless all of us, and guide us to an excellent and productive results in our catholic practice. Amen

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