Synod2017 - Bernie Velasco

4pm Mass - St Patrick's Hall, Paraparaumu - Sunday, 12 November 2017

00:00 - Gospel reading
02:05 - Fr Michael introduces Bernie
04:10 - Bernie's talk

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.

It was a great honour and a humbling experience to be one of the 15 synod delegates that represented our parish to this very important event. There were 350 souls of all ages and nationalities from all over the Wellington diocese that came together for a weekend of prayer and discernment. It was refreshing to see that the youth were well represented.

It was my first time to be a part of an event of this magnitude and great importance that the thought that my voice can be heard and listened to was overwhelming. But then I realised, that just like most everyone else in the synod, it was not my voice at all but the voice of the Holy Spirit that was being heard. For indeed, over and over again, in all the group sessions that we participated in, the singular voice of the Holy Spirit was very clear for all to hear; the movement of the Holy Spirit was there for all to see and feel.

All group sessions were to begin with a prayer. We used the Vatican II Council Prayer “Adsumus” which has been historically used at Councils, Synods, and other Church gatherings for hundreds of year. I would like to read the first few words:

Here we are, O Lord, Holy Spirit, we stand before you, hampered by our faults, but for a special purpose gathered together in your name. Come to us and be with us and enter our hearts.

This opening prayer has ensured smooth sailing in every group sessions I’ve been. However, there was one group session I attended that did not start with any prayer at all, and we went through it like a ship through stormy seas. It was very hard to find a place of consensus. I personally believed that the Holy Spirit was hands-off on that session. Needless to say, two of the three proposals that was rejected for the final synod outcomes, were from that session.

In the words of Cardinal Dew, “The Synod is over and it is time to begin work on its outcomes.” He was “very happy to accept and promulgate the recommendations made by the Synod members as the directions and priorities for the Archdiocese of Wellington.”

You can read the outcomes of the synod on our parish website.

One thing that you would notice about the synod outcomes is that our parish is already actively doing some of its recommendations (in one form or another) and have been doing so for many years. Here is are few that I can think of:

  • Drawing on and sharing the experience of those already engaged at the peripheries.
  • The Archdiocese engages with existing bodies (such as St Vincent de Paul Society) to determine how best to support and promote greater parish involvement in their work.
  • Parishes are supported to develop new and inclusive forms of liturgy/worship (other than the Mass) which reflect the diversity of parish communities and encourage people to reengage with their faith.
  • The Archdiocese identifies a variety of models for lay-led scripture study/reflection groups for use in parishes, and assists with the formation of leaders.
  • Parish liturgies and activities involve and reflect their ethnic communities.

However, there were also many recommendations we can explore. Here are a few examples:

  • Foster ways to get to know new members outside of Mass, help them integrate.
  • Multicultural celebrations, all together not just single cultural celebrations - promote joint celebration of different communities.
  • Young people are encouraged, trusted and supported in taking the initiative in developing new forms of ministry and outreach.
  • Parishes create opportunities for the development of relationships between parishioners, particularly in amalgamated parishes, through working together on projects and responding to needs.
  • Opportunities are created for migrants to tell their stories.

To know more of these recommendations and practical actions I suggest you have a read from our website or if you don’t have access to the internet to ask someone who has to get it printed for you.

So what do we do from here? Cardinal Dew said “it is time to begin work”.

In his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium:The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis said that by virtue of our baptism we have become missionary disciples. Furthermore,

All the baptized, whatever their position in the Church or their level of instruction in the faith, are agents of evangelization, and it would be insufficient to envisage a plan of evangelization to be carried out by professionals while the rest of the faithful would simply be passive recipients. The new evangelization calls for personal involvement on the part of each of the baptized. Every Christian is challenged, here and now, to be actively engaged in evangelization; indeed, anyone who has truly experienced God’s saving love does not need much time or lengthy training to go out and proclaim that love. Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus: we no longer say that we are “disciples” and “missionaries”, but rather that we are always “missionary disciples”.

So, back to the question, what do we do from here? We are a church full of missionary disciples stepping out in faith evangelising joyfully with our lives. We will build an outward looking parish united Christ and empowered and guided by the Holy Spirit for the glory of God, the Father Almighty! Amen.

Maraming salamat po. Thank you very much.