“Faith-filled and Resilient"
Sister Mila Díaz Solano and Michele Sisson-White, in a letter to Springfield Dominican sisters and associates, said they were grateful to represent the community as participants in a process to prepare a document for the North American Continental Phase of the global synod of the Catholic Church.
“We are grateful for the opportunity we had to engage in dialogue with such a diversity of faith-filled and resilient people,” they wrote in an email to all Springfield Dominican sisters and associates. “We are grateful for the vulnerability, honesty, courage, and love for the Church expressed by the participants.”
Their online gathering was one of twelve held jointly by the bishops’ conferences of the United States and Canada, and part of the process that will ultimately lead to a working document to be considered during the bishops’ synod gathering in Rome in October 2023.
During the assembly Sister Mila and Michele dialogued in small groups which included representatives of Native Americans, LGBTQ persons and their parents, divorced persons, and representatives of other diverse movements. Among them were those advocating for ordaining women to the diaconate, Catholic youth movements, groups of Hispanic persons, and sisters and associates of other religious communities.
“We experienced the Spirit,” they said.
An inclusive, missionary Church
They were participants in one of a dozen sessions organized by the synod committee of the USCCB for the continent of North America. More than 50 organizations, movements, or associations were represented by 155 participants.
The meetings were held in February and the results passed on to a North American writing team that will prepare a document to be send to the Secretariat for the Synod by March 31.
“The common desire expressed by many groups was to bring the Church to what was meant to be: an inclusive and missionary Church,” they wrote. Participants expressed a sense that the Church is at a turning point, while recognizing there is resistance to the idea of a synodal church from bishops and priests who have chosen not to engage the people of their parishes or dioceses in the synodal process.
A Church fully alive
“What nurtured us as women who deeply love the Church is that all the participants in our session are engaged with many other people,” Sister Mila and Michele wrote. “They represent enlarging the space of the Church’s tent. They are all committed to continuing their journey of synodality in whatever way is possible. This is the Church we are proud to belong too and a Church that is not only surviving but fully alive. The Spirit is present and is moving! We have felt it and we give witness of it!”
Michele Sisson-White serves on SDART, the Springfield Dominican Antiracism Team, and has been an associate since 2016. She was on the planning committee for the congregation’s synodal process, and lives in Columbia, Mo. Sister Mila Díaz Solano is a member of the Dominican Sisters leadership team and holds a PhD. In Sacred Scripture from the École Biblique, Jerusalem.