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Walking Together: An Update on the Synodal Process

The Supper at Emmaus, Galleria degli Arazzi, Vatican Museum. A Creative Commons photo from flickr.com. Accessed May 6, 2022. https://www.flickr.com/ photos/justaslice/49684829557

This article was originally published in JUST Words Vol. 22 No. 2 Summer Issue


Exquisite! Magnificent! These words describe the rich beauty of a “planetary tapestry” woven through the global synod convoked by Pope Francis in October 2021. Stories, concerns, critiques, and dreams of Catholics the world over are due in Rome by August 15, and will be processed through the synod office in preparation for the global synod of bishops in October 2023.

The Dominican Sisters of Springfield will submit a report to the Vatican summarizing the conversations we’ve had with people to whom and with whom we minister. We welcomed into serious conversation many who spoke with us about how we might walk together more effectively as Church. Responding to the call of Pope Francis we explored questions such as: How are we doing? Where might we improve? What would our Church look like if our dreams materialized?

Here is a sampling of thoughts shared by participants after our synodal conversations about the experience and their perception of the Holy Spirit’s presence.

Nancy Rita Kaz

Nancy Rita Kaz

Associate Nancy Rita Kaz commented: “I was surprised that the Church is interested in what we have to say and I was grateful for the freedom to speak my truth. I felt like I was being heard. Being listened to creates an intimacy that wouldn’t otherwise happen.”

Dave Sanders

Dave Sanders

Dave Sanders, another associate, also participated and served as a facilitator and a scribe. He felt the presence of the Holy Spirit “in the prayers, in the sincerity and wisdom of words the participants spoke and their eagerness to speak, but mostly in the hope that filled each moment of each session.” Reluctant at first to spend so much time in this endeavor, he admits “it turned out to be a great blessing. The experience was very spiritual as well as being a time for bonding and friendship building…. Most of all, it was a time to participate in a constructive process to advance Christ’s mission in the Church.”

Charlie and Kattie Minor

Charlie and Kattie Minor

As members of SDART and associates, Charlie and Kattie Minor have known the Springfield Dominicans since 2004. Charlie said: “My take on it is this: The Holy Spirit tells us what makes us different. Whether we are Baptist or Catholic is not where we stop. No, we have the same goal and are walking in the same direction. The Spirit is saying, ‘Keep at it. Keep walking together street by street, town by town heading towards God!’”

Anna Grill

Anna Grill

The Holy Spirit’s presence within the “coming together” for the listening sessions was also the experience of the student Dominican Preachers and the campus ministers of their high schools. Across the board they mentioned how fruitful it was for them to speak with other people who were doing the same work of promoting the Dominican charism in their respective high schools. Anna Grill from Marian Catholic said she felt “the Holy Spirit working in many ways that allowed teenagers from all different areas of Illinois to express what God has put on their hearts. I saw the Spirit let these people be bold with what they needed to say. I loved the experience. It was so amazing. It is sometimes challenging to find like-minded people that care so deeply about wanting a change in the Church and I wish I could experience something like this more often.”

Judy Babb Troxell

Judy Babb Troxell

Judy Babb Troxell, an SDART member and associate, expressed excitement and gratitude that the synodal process gave her hope in “the opportunity to go deep, examining all aspects of life, mission, and ministry as called by God to live and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Travis Ketterman

Travis Ketterman

The President of the Board of Directors at the all-girls Rosary High School, Travis Ketterman, appreciates that “the power of prayer and the personalities of the people were an amazing combination...In particular, the discussion on the need to increase the involvement of women at the decision-making levels of the Church–from a parish on up–was reaffirming. Based on the power of the Holy Spirit and the dynamic gifts bestowed on individual Catholics, I remain as optimistic as ever for the future.”

Sarah Tapscott

Sarah Tapscott

Sarah Tapscott, a board member at Sacred Heart-Griffin, experienced her synodal session as “very interactive…collaborative…and inclusive.” She detected the Holy Spirit’s manifestation as community. “I felt as though the listening sessions allowed us to gather…representing different schools, and share our thoughts and experiences without judgment. I felt there was intentional time and space devoted to allowing the Holy Spirit to be present as we reflected individually about the questions being asked and during our small group conversations.”

Sophia Cousins

Sophia Cousins

Sophia Cousins, from Rosary, appreciated the group discussion: “especially the way we were able to listen to others’ perspectives and build our responses off one another. It was encouraging to hear and discuss with others the way they are being witnesses of faith in other places and to know that I’m in solidarity with fellow high school students living their faith. I gained a new excitement for spreading the traditions of the beautiful Catholic faith.”

Kathleen Lauterbach

Kathleen Lauterbach

Sacred Heart-Griffin student Kathleen Lauterbach said she “liked hearing about how others practice their faith and what they may struggle with. It was a great experience where I could recognize that we are all similar in faith.”

Courtney Adams and Michael Rawls

Courtney Adams and Michael Rawls

Campus ministers Courtney Adams (SHG) and Michael Rawls (MCHS) both have renewed hope after their students risked sharing honestly during their listening session. Courtney observed that it was so good for the students to be able to say what they thought and, in the end, not feel judged for it by the sisters. Courtney and Michael said they experience hope for the future of the Church as the students continue to open themselves to the presence of the Spirit in their lives. Courtney observed that this synodal process helped lay the groundwork for the students to embrace the challenge of “how will I be Christ to other people?” Growing in that understanding, they will truly be Church themselves, part of a living, breathing Church. Michael’s experience helped him realize the Church is not just an institution to be studied but a complex reality that has grown and developed over the past 2000 years and that seeks to meet the needs of society today.

Deep gratitude to ALL those who have generously taken part and benefited from the synodal listening sessions. Synodality among us has only just begun!

Synod Session Participants

More than 100 of these partners in mission and dozens of Springfield Dominican Sisters participated in the synodal journey.

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