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Synod: Now begins the 'exciting work'

Archbishop Wenski's column for the October edition of The Florida Catholic

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On October 26, with solemnity but also with great hope for the future, we conclude our Archdiocesan Synod. While this is only the second synod in the relatively young history of our archdiocese, synods are as old as the Church herself and throughout her history, synods have been used by bishops in their role as shepherds to seek counsel from their immediate collaborators, the priests, and from the people of God themselves, to assist them as they teach, rule and sanctify the local Churches entrusted to their care. 

In 1790, the first American bishop, John Carroll, summoned his clergy to a diocesan canonical synod at St. Peter’s Pro-Cathedral in Baltimore. He and 22 priests met the following year. At that time, among the topics discussed were: the danger of mixed marriages to the faith of young Catholics; Easter duty — the obligation of all Catholics to go to confession and receive holy Communion during the Easter season; the proper disposition of parish funds; priestly vocations and the religious education of children.

These themes would be addressed time and time again at similar gatherings over the next two centuries. And, as was made clear in the 13 listening sessions held throughout the archdiocese in the late spring of 2012, these same themes or variations of them still concern us today. 

During the months that followed the official convocation of the synod at the Chrism Mass on April 3, 2012, more than 800 people participated in one or more focus areas in order to strategically identify pastoral initiatives or goals adapted to our circumstances. 

The purpose of our synod here in Miami was simply to examine what we must do as a community of faith to put into action "the plan found in the Gospel and the living tradition to make Christ known, loved and imitated so that in Him we may live the life of the Trinity and with Him transform history until its fulfillment in the heavenly Jerusalem." (Novo Millennio Ineunte). 

With God's help and the continued active collaboration of our priests, deacons and laity, the implementation of the Synod’s priorities and goals promises to be the beginning of an exciting work of pastoral revitalization. We are called not to announce an idea but to be witnesses to a person, Jesus Christ, who suffered, died, was buried and now has risen from the dead. If we are to lead others to faith we must also grow in that faith ourselves. We will only be witnesses if we ourselves are committed disciples and coherent missionaries.

Then, evangelization, preaching the Gospel, means simply sharing what we have experienced in the lived intimacy of our communion with Christ.

Incumbent on each one of us then is: the need to grow in our personal, living relationship with Christ and to assure that our parishes, schools and other ministries serve as “schools” of prayer and communion fostering that growth; the need to lead our fellow brothers and sisters to a new experience of holiness and abundant life in Christ; the need to share God’s love, by selflessly contributing our time, talent and treasure, to offer a future of hope to all, especially to those most in need. 

More details will follow in coming months as we begin the implementation of the synod’s plans and priorities. In the meantime, I ask for your continued prayers that the Lord will bring this good work begun in our archdiocese to a successful completion in the months and years ahead. With our faith and the hope it brings, we as Catholics in South Florida 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.

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