March 11, 2022

‘How we go forth as the Church’

Catholics from across the archdiocese come together in a synodal meeting

Ken Ogorek listens as Tom Feick, center, raises a point with a small group during a March 5 meeting at St. Bartholomew Parish in Columbus at which a draft report on a synodal process in the archdiocese that started last October was reviewed. Feick and the others at the table are members of St. Luke the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis. The others include Judy Corbett, third from left, Gayle Spencer and Marcia Capuano. Ogorek coordinated the synodal process in the archdiocese. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

Ken Ogorek listens as Tom Feick, center, raises a point with a small group during a March 5 meeting at St. Bartholomew Parish in Columbus at which a draft report on a synodal process in the archdiocese that started last October was reviewed. Feick and the others at the table are members of St. Luke the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis. The others include Judy Corbett, third from left, Gayle Spencer and Marcia Capuano. Ogorek coordinated the synodal process in the archdiocese. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

COLUMBUS— Catholics from across central and southern Indiana gathered on March 5 with Archbishop Charles C. Thompson in one of the final steps in a synodal process launched last October in the archdiocese and in dioceses around the world.

The meeting, held at St. Bartholomew Parish in Columbus, was one of the final steps in the process that is part of the preparation for a 2023 meeting of the world Synod of Bishops at the Vatican that will discuss synodality. This is a word to describe how all the faithful are called to contribute to the guiding of the life of the Church through prayerful listening and sharing their own thoughts.

Archbishop Thompson noted that synodality was emphasized at the Second Vatican Council and was a trait of the Church in its earliest days.

“This is how we go forth as the Church,” the archbishop.

He appreciated the discussion and suggestions of the 37 participants in the meeting who came from 16 parishes.

“This is a very intelligent, articulate group,” Archbishop Thompson said of the 37 people gathered from 16 parishes. “This was very fruitful for me.”

‘A good opportunity to share’

Those gathered reviewed and discussed a 10-page draft summarizing more than 2,000 pages of input gathered as part of the preparation process.

The input was collected from multiple sources: an archdiocesan online survey, the archdiocesan pastoral council, parish pastoral councils, young adults, Hispanic Catholics, those involved in Catholic schools and leaders of Christian and leaders of other faith communities in central and southern Indiana.

“Anytime that you invite an enormous group of people to share a lot of thoughts and feelings on a broad variety of topics and questions, the process itself is going to be a little bit messy—and I mean that in a good way,” said archdiocesan director of catechesis Ken Ogorek, coordinator of the archdiocese’s synodal process. He and a group of other archdiocesan leaders reviewed the input collected and created the draft report.

“We’ve provided quite a few people a good opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings in a prayerful way,” he said.

One such way was the March 5 meeting, which opened and closed in prayer.

In small groups, participants reviewed and discussed the draft. It included such topics as parish life; how people offer their perspectives and are listened to in the Church; liturgy; dialogue between the Church and society; ecumenism; authority and participation; and discernment and deciding.

Representatives from each group shared with all the participants what they affirmed in the report and edits that could be made.

‘The discussion … was inspiring’

Karla Hudacek, a pastoral associate at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Indianapolis, told The Criterion that she was impressed by the meeting.

“The discussion that we had at our table was inspiring,” she said. “They took it seriously. They were informed and hoped that this input would matter.”

One young adult present was glad to see the Church’s use of social media mentioned.

“Interacting with society is a big thing right now, especially with the expansion of social media,” said Katherine Morris, 20, of Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish in Greenwood. “It’s nice to know that the Church is taking that into account in working to spread the Gospel in a new way.”

Morris’ fellow parishioner, 23-year-old Shae Beechler, appreciated the chance to contribute to the life of the Church through the synodal process.

“This is a great opportunity to be involved in the Church, to be engaged and possibly see a change in our Church,” said Beechler. “We can use our voices as young people. We’ve never had the opportunity to speak out like this and to engage with the worldwide stage of the Church. It’s a great opportunity to voice our own concerns.”

Accompanying the young adults was Sarah Wood, Our Lady of the Greenwood’s director of youth and young adult evangelization. She sees the synodal process as being valuable for her faith community, which is seeking to nurture greater unity among its ethnically diverse members.

“Being one parish and community is something that we hope for and are striving for,” said Wood. “This is such a blessing to be a part of this and to witness it. I want to take this back home to Greenwood.”

‘Called to participate in the life of the Church’

Ogorek and other archdiocesan leaders will review the input offered at the March 5 meeting, plus any follow-up contributions from its participants, in formulating a final report, which is expected to be submitted to the USCCB by the end of March.

The contents of the archdiocesan report will be made available to the public.

The USCCB, in turn, will formulate a report based on input from dioceses across the country. This report, along with others from bishops’ conferences from around the world, will then be sent to the Vatican as it prepares for the Synod of Bishops meeting in October 2023.

Hudacek said the way Catholics from across central and southern Indiana came together in the process to discuss the life of the Church should be a model for the future.

“It’s our responsibility as members of the body of Christ,” said Hudacek. “We’re called to participate in the life of the Church. This is a huge opportunity for us to be able to express our opinions about where the Church is headed and what we feel is important to be emphasized and enlivened.”

Archbishop Thompson agreed in comments he made to the participants, encouraging them to continue the kind of interactions that have marked the synodal process.

“Pope Francis isn’t asking us to do synodality for one year,” he said. “It’s not just something that we do one time. We’ll continue to do it in parishes, in dioceses.” †

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