Welcome to St. Edmund’s new section covering Synod 2021-2023. Pope Francis has asked the whole Catholic Church worldwide to engage in a process of discernment under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This process is called a synod. It involves everyone in the Church – clergy, religious, and lay Catholics, each participating according to the gifts and charisms of their vocation. This page will be updated when new material is available.
10 May 2022
23 March 2022
The Synodal pathway was the subject of several of the lent talks given by Fr Ashley: You can view a recording of the talks and read the text on our lent talks page:
11 March 2022
Parish Synodal Report Published
The Parish Synodal Report is now available here.
Thank you to all who participated in this project and those who organised the listening sessions and compiled the final report. Please read, reflect and pray about the way forward. We should not allow this work to be stored away in a filing cabinet somewhere to be remembered as yet another exercise that led nowhere. This should be an incentive to open our hearts and minds to the power of the Holy Spirit, that: Being formed in the likeness of Christ, we strive to become a truly Christ-centred community through humble witness, love, compassion and communion.
7 March 2022
18 February 2022
(FROM OUR NEWSLETTER)
The parish phase of the Synod is now complete and this week we submitted a report to the Archdiocese with the findings of our work. We want to thank all who participated in the process and gave such open and honest views whether in the questionnaire, at the listening meetings, or both. 237 of you completed the questionnaire and 65 participated in the listening meetings. The responses clearly came from a deep love of God and the Church and the views were considered and honest. The warmth and affection of you all towards the Church was apparent and particularly for our parish team.
What did you all say?
The consistency of responses received and heard was encouraging and from early on themes emerged. There was a clear call for change in organisation, behaviours and attitudes at all levels of the Church. The content in the survey responses was thoughtful, prayerful and rich in detail and suggestions. Ten themes were identified and reported to the Archdiocese. It is impossible to precis them here however six are noted below:
- Role of women in the church
Men and women called for women priests or deacons, citing successes in the Church of England. A clear majority said that women should be able to take on more lay roles in the Church. There were many references to lack of appreciation of the importance of women to the Church.
- Exclusion of minorities
Many respondents commented that given we are taught to love and treat everyone with compassion, it was strange that the Catholic Church did not follow this teaching for LGBTQ+, those with physical or mental health issues or the divorced.
- Engaging with younger Catholics
There was a call to enable participation in church life of younger people, closing the gap between confirmation and the ‘next’ sacrament of marriage but with a caution to find out what was wanted, not assuming that we know best!
- Governance and decision making
There is little or no understanding Church and parish governance, decision making, finances, and management. At a parish level, many referred to the lack of transparency about where decisions are taken and by whom. Concern was expressed that where committees existed, the recruitment process was opaque.
- Size of the parish and being part of a parish community
The size of our large parish is seen as both a strength and a weakness. There was sadness at a lack of welcome for newcomers. There were many practical suggestions on how to improve communication, to instil a sense of welcome and promote a sense of parish cohesion. A perception of lack of joy in the mass was a common theme of the listening events.
- Sunday only church?
There was a clear call for St Edmund’s to open its doors, welcoming the wider community, with examples of other churches at the heart of their communities, serving coffee, hosting art events, holding concerts, in use every day of the week.
This was a balanced expression of faith in the possibility of improvement and the hope for a Church that listens and changes for the better. Although our influence at an Archdiocese level and above is limited, our own parish clergy team have been supportive of the process from the start and there are plenty of areas that we as a parish can work on ourselves.
Exactly what the next steps are for us at St Edmund’s have not been determined yet. Our intention is to sit down with the clergy team in the coming weeks and discuss our report in detail with them. Once this has taken place our full report will be published for you to read and digest. After that, we expect there to be a further call for you to volunteer/participate/contribute to a ‘next steps’ phase. A sustained effort from everyone is required to address issues raised and effect the changes so desired.
Thank you again to all who responded, we hope you found it as enriching as we did and will remain engaged in the next phase.
Francesca, Liz, Emma and Susie
16 February 2022
9 January 2022
(FROM OUR NEWSLETTER)
Thank you to all parishioners who responded to our survey or participated in one of the December listening events. We have had some very insightful and thoughtful contributions. However, we would like more, to ensure that our submission represents the thoughts of our diverse parish.
We will be hosting two more listening events on 13 and 19 January, 19.30 – 21.00. If you have not attended an earlier event, please consider signing up to join one. We have been told that they are very enjoyable. In view of the covid risk, we will host the next two sessions on Zoom.
Please book a place via ChurchSuite and we will send you a link to join in the meeting:
THURSDAY 13 JANUARY 2022 7.30pm CLICK HERE
WEDNESDAY 19 JANUARY 2022 7.30pm CLICK HERE
If you are new to Zoom, please get in touch and we will talk you through the very simple process.
Once we conclude analysing and collating the information, we will write a report for the diocese and for the parish. This will be shared with you. Meanwhile if you want to contribute anything please email the team or drop written thoughts into the office.
Meanwhile please keep our team in your prayers.
19 December 2021
(FROM OUR NEWSLETTER)
Advent, as we all know, is a journey towards Christmas; we all look forward through this season to celebrating the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ and rightly so. We should be looking forward to such an occasion, because if he wasn’t born in human form and experienced the emotions that we as humans feel, his sacrifice for our salvation would be a mere act or a show: so indeed he is true God and true man. During this time we anticipate and prepare for Christmas, whether by going to confession or planning a menu for the big day, these are things we do every year on a regular basis. Unlike me, most people start early so they have everything sorted for the day, to ensure their family and friends can enjoy the occasion and have a good time. Starting early and preparing for such things is very helpful. Similarly, preparing for the 2023 synod which Pope Francis has announced, the diocese and parishes have started preparing for the occasion. Jesus gave up his life for the Church, and you, the people gathered together in the name of Jesus Christ, are the Church, Pope Francis is giving us, each and every one of us, an opportunity to contribute to the Synod.
There is a two-year consultation process which is taking place on a global level. The Holy Father has announced that there will be three phases for this synod: the first is a diocesan phase which will enable every parish and individual to contribute their views on how the Church should feel – not simply what it should look like. The second phase will be a continental one, and the third will be universal.
Pope Francis said in his homily at the launch of this synod that the gospels often show Jesus in the midst of a journey, meeting people and listening to their deepest concerns. This is an opportunity that our Holy Father Pope Francis is giving us he wants to listen to our voices, and it is only right that we participate and give our two penny’s worth of opinion, which is probably worth much more that you can imagine, in the building of the future of our universal Church. Pope Francis is inviting us to an adventure, and challenging us to question the status quo, as in ‘it is useless’, or ‘we have always done it this way’. He has described this synod ‘as a journey of spiritual discernment’, guided by God’s Word.
This synod calls for a worldwide listening and discernment in the parish. The reason I use the term ‘worldwide’ is because it is an initiative from Pope Francis that is aimed at listening to the whole world. What might work for us locally might not be suitable for other parts of the world, which is why I am considering a worldwide view of what the Church should be now and in the future.
If you are happy with where we are and how things are going that is fine, please let us know that it is fine. If you want to see any changes please let us know that too. But abstaining or ignoring such a wonderful opportunity to contribute to the wellbeing and the future of the Church is embarrassing. We have had three meetings in the parish giving parishioners an opportunity to voice their opinion and discuss; we want to know if there will be interest in organising further meetings at the beginning of the new year, so please let us know. The parish has arranged a survey for you to feed into the synod, it is available online HERE , or you can send in your comments by EMAIL . There are copies available in printed form at the back of the church. We understand it is not easy to articulate or communicate what we really want as a Church, but there are a lot of resources which are available to guide us, particularly from Pope Francis, the Vatican, the Bishops Conference and the diocese. As active faithful followers of Christ please participate in whatever way you can, whether it is online or in person. We have two volunteers who are representing our parish: please feel free to contact them with your views.
Please do all you can to support this process as we ‘journey together’, respectfully hearing and exploring how the perennial teaching of the Church can be applied and lived today. As Pope Francis reminds us: ‘what is under discussion at synodal gatherings are not the traditional truths of Christian doctrine. The Synod is concerned mainly with how teaching can be lived and applied in the changing contexts of our time.’ (Let us Dream: The Path to a Better Future [London: Simon and Schuster 2020, pp. 84-85). I offer this short passage from the synod Vademecum in the letter Archbishop John wrote on the synod: ‘May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of the Apostles and Mother of the Church, intercede for us as we journey together on the path that God sets before us. As in the Upper Room at Pentecost, may her maternal care and intercession accompany us as we build up our communion with one another and carry out our mission in the world. With her, we say together as the People of God: ‘Let it be with me according to your word’ (Lk 1:38). Amen’. Please keep the Synodal process in your prayers.
Wishing you all a safe and Merry Christmas.
Deacon Sandy Misquitta
12 December 2021
Thank you to all 200 parishioners who have responded to our survey. The content of your replies has been impressive, but we would love to have more returned, so that the views are truly representative of our diverse parish. We will leave the link open (see below) so please encourage friends and family members to participate; it can be completed in as little as 5 minutes. We really want to hear from you, from younger parishioners and those who may have drifted away.
This week we had 3 listening events, which were enjoyed by attendees, but the numbers were not high. We propose running a few more in the New Year, if the demand is there. Please consider attending; dates will be advertised in the newsletter and you can register on Church Suite.
Once we conclude analysing and collating the in-formation, we will write a report for the diocese and the parish. This will be shared with you. Meanwhile if you want to contribute anything please email us or drop written thoughts into the office. Meanwhile please keep our team in your prayers.
Liz & Fran
26 November 2021PARISH SYNOD MEETINGS
We are pleased to announce that booking for the Parish synod meetings is now open. CLICK HERE to book one of the following meetings:
Tuesday 7 December 7.30pm in the Church Hall
Thursday 9 December on Zoom at 7.30pm
Saturday 11 December 2.00pm in the Church Hall
6 November 2021
St Edmund’s Synod: Intoduction
Over the last few weeks you have heard the clergy talk about the synod*. We are very pleased to launch the St Edmunds synod this weekend. Each of us is being invited to listen to each other and contribute our thoughts towards the future of The Church. We would warmly encourage you to please take part – each of us in the parish doubtless has valuable things to say. Parish consultation is based on the themes and questions prepared by the Archdiocese of Southwark and will take the form of a short survey followed by two in-person parish meetings (covid permitting), and a zoom meeting for those unable to attend an in-person meeting.
Early next week those of you who receive the newsletter via email will receive a link to a short survey that should take no longer than 10 mins to complete. We hope that by making this survey short and relatively simple a large number of you will participate in the consultation. Your survey submission will be anonymous, and the data will be submitted to Archdiocese servers which are secure. For those that do not have online access please contact the Parish Office who will be able to arrange for you to complete the survey another way.
Please complete the survey by 21 November. [Survey open until 31 December 2021].
The survey results will be analysed and used as a basis for discussion at the Parish meetings, along with detailed open questions provided by the Archdiocese. At the Parish meetings we will break out to small groups to encourage everyone to speak and give their views.
The in-person meetings will take place in early December, dates will be in the newsletter. Please only attend one meeting so that as many Parishioners as possible can participate in the consultation process. To ensure the Parish meetings are safe from a covid perspective we will ask you to book a place at your chosen meeting. Booking details will be available nearer the time.
It is vital that we hear from a wide range of people, so please share the link with family and friends who may have drifted away from the church. Equally, if the parish meetings do not appeal, consider gathering a group of friends to discuss the questions over a coffee or a glass of wine and send us your thoughts.
The views expressed will be collated and drafted into a Parish response to the Archdiocese. We understand that after Parish submissions are made the Archdiocese may ask us to participate in a Diocesan wide listening session where we will represent the Parish views gathered from the consultation.
If you would prefer to submit your own thoughts directly to us, please email us or leave a note at the parish office. Alternatively, if you would like to submit directly to the diocese you can do so on their website.
We look forward to meeting many of you throughout the consultation period and ask for your prayers for a successful synod.
Liz Jones & Francesca Fear, St Edmunds Parish Delegates
Fr Ashley introduced us to the Synod in the Newsletter on 17 October 2021…
ON THE ROAD WITH POPE FRANCIS
The picture in our Newsletter is of Pope Francis celebrating Mass in St Peter’s Basilica last Sunday. On one level it seemed a straightforward Sunday Mass, with green vestments and the same readings as we and every other Catholic parish had – and indeed the Holy Father preached on these readings (https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/homilies/2021/documents/20211010-omelia-sinodo-vescovi.html). But it was a very special occasion as it opened a Synod of Bishops – not, this time, a meeting lasting a few days or a couple of weeks, but an ongoing process for the next two years. Moreover this synod is not simply for bishops but for the whole Church.
The word ‘synod’ simply means ‘on a road together’ and this helps us understand what it is all about. So the pope said: ‘Celebrating a Synod means walking on the same road, walking together. Let us look at Jesus. First, he encounters the rich man on the road; he then listens to his questions, and finally he helps him discern what he must do to inherit eternal life. Encounter, listen and discern’. Over the next two years the whole Church is invited to do this – encountering Our Lord, listening to him and discerning the future.
I don’t need here to offer a commentary on the Holy Father’s homily; it’s much better to read or listen to him direct and easy to do so. He speaks plainly and doesn’t need me to explain what he’s saying. We need to see this initiative in the context of the whole teaching ministry of Pope Francis, and also the context of where the Church and the world are at the moment. It is nearly sixty years now since the beginning of one of the most important synods in the history of the Catholic Church – the Second Vatican Council – which did so much to renew the life of the Church precisely because it enabled the Church to ‘encounter, listen and discern’; I think the pope is trying to recapture that vision and help us to be inspired.
Three crises in the world provide the backdrop for this. First, the really critical crisis caused by climate change and threats to biodiversity. The moral and theological danger of this is something the pope has repeatedly warned us all about – hence his great 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’ and the Season of Creation every year which we have recently celebrated. This is not simply about governments talking to each other – the behaviour of all of us has to change. The second is the toxic effect of populist nationalism – the results of which we have seen in our supermarkets and queues at petrol stations – so much at odds with Catholic teaching. The Holy Father addressed this in his encyclical of a year ago, Fratelli Tutti, which we looked at during Lent in this parish. Building up new links of interdependence and friendship, at all levels, has to be a priority. The final crisis is also still very much with us: coming out of the Covid-19 pandemic. So many bad moral choices have been made and continue to be made, which have led to deaths; simply in the area of the availability of vaccines there is so much going wrong, as Fr Victor pointed out on this page two weeks ago. The world desperately needs a moral compass.
These three crises in the world (and there are others) are crises for the Church, but we have others of our own as well. The worst is the continuing scandal of the abuse of children and the vulnerable within the Church – France is the latest country for which a truly damning report has just appeared – and the culpable mishandling of this by bishops, Religious superiors and others. The pope has repeatedly pointed out the terrible sufferings of victims is linked to structures reflecting clericalism (and Deacon Séan has made the same point in this newsletter), which has bred a toxic sense of entitlement and a refusal to be accountable to anyone outside the clerical caste. Another crisis for the Church is worsening divisions and polarisation, much of it made worse in relation to liturgy and the actions of some enthusiasts for the pre-1970 Order of Mass. In the summer the pope addressed this danger by issuing new restrictions on the celebration of Mass according to the 1962 Missal. There are many other issues around, some of them very critical as we gradually emerge from the pandemic in terms of worship – such as the participation of laypeople in leadership within the Church, particularly women, the future of Catholic education and formation, and so on.
I wrote above that a feature of clericalism is a lack of accountability. A ‘synodal path’ addresses this problem head on. If we have proper and prayerful gatherings enabling us to ‘encounter, listen and discern’ we deliberately make ourselves accountable – to one another, and to the whole community. Dioceses are setting up structures to enable this to happen, and we will be sharing more about this shortly; and we also need to do this in parishes as well: here this will dovetail well with our plans for renewal, growth and mission. But what I would want to stress at this stage is the need to be inspired by the Holy Father’s vision. It is easy to be cynical (and clergy are good at that, sadly), especially if the pandemic has left us a little drained and weary; but such feelings could be disastrous for this process which the Church is embarking on. In the closing words of his homily last Sunday, the pope said that he wanted the synod to be ‘a grace-filled event, a process of healing guided by the Spirit. In these days, Jesus calls us, as he did the rich man in the Gospel, to empty ourselves, to free ourselves from all that is worldly, including our inward-looking and outworn pastoral models; and to ask ourselves what it is that God wants to say to us in this time. And the direction in which he wants to lead us. Dear brothers and sisters, let us have a good journey together! May we be pilgrims in love with the Gospel and open to the surprises of the Holy Spirit. Let us not miss out on the grace-filled opportunities born of encounter, listening and discernment. In the joyful conviction that, even as we seek the Lord, he always comes with his love to meet us first’.
Deacon Sandy added further thoughts in the following week’s Newsletter…
THE CHURCH AS WE WANT IT IN THE THIRD MILLENIUM
Last week Father Ashley wrote about the opening Mass of the Synod celebrated by Pope Francis, and explained what ‘Synod’ means: walking on the same road – walking together. The Synod of Bishops will be held in 2023 in Rome and time is short. Today I want to invite you to participate in thinking and in voicing your views, concerns, expectations and your vision of where the Church ought to be. In this initial phase you have until 7 January 2022 to think about it. The Church is not the building in which we gather; rather, the living Church is actually all of us who belong to Christ – that is the real Church. This Synod calls for a worldwide process of listening and discernment in parishes. It is worldwide because it is an initiative from Pope Francis aimed at listening to the whole world. What might work for us locally might not be suitable for other parts of the world, so we need to have a worldwide view of what the Church should be now and in the future.
Jesus defined the term ‘neighbour’ very well in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 29-37) and also in telling us ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ This is our opportunity to participate in what the Church means to us, as members of the Church and as a community, the Body of Christ. It is a renewal process and it is important for us to keep in mind how we can maintain solidarity with the rest of the world. The preparatory documents for this process published by the diocese say in clarification, ‘The consultation of the people of God does not imply the assumption within the Church of the dynamics of democracy based on the principle of majority, it is a shared passion for a common mission.’ When we say ‘common mission and shared passion’ we need to think of the rest of the world and not just the local parish. This synod is about rejuvenating the whole world with the message of Christ and walking together in his footsteps. That does not preclude us from thinking about our particular parish; however, it is greatly beneficial to journey together with others – how we are connected with other dioceses, the rest of the world and Rome. This is an invitation to have your voice heard. We have been blessed with a diverse community, and regularly until the pandemic we celebrated this unity in diversity in International Days in our parish.
This is a call to each and every one of you to participate and help to define through prayer the purpose of the Church, which can be done through prayer. Archbishop John has written this in his letter about synod: ‘Please do all you can to support this process as we ‘journey together’, respectfully hearing and exploring how the perennial teaching of the Church can be applied and lived today’. Pope Francis also reminds us: ‘’What is under discussion at synodal gatherings are not the traditional truths of Christian doctrine. The Synod is concerned mainly with how teaching can be lived and applied in the changing contexts of our time.’ (Let us Dream: the Path to a Better Future, Simon and Schuster, London: Simon and Schuster 2020, pp. 84-85)
I offer this short passage from the Synod Vademecum by way of a prayer and conclusion:
May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of the Apostles and Mother of the Church, intercede for us as we journey together on the path that God sets before us. As in the Upper Room at Pentecost, may her maternal care and intercession accompany us as we build up our communion with one another and carry out our mission in the world. With her, we say together as the People of God: ‘Let it be with me according to your word’ (Lk 1:38). Amen.
Please keep the Synodal process in your prayers.
If you would like to know more or start preparing for the St Edmunds’ synod we would suggest having a look at the following documents;
- Questions for Use in Parish Listening, Sharing and Reflection from the Archdiocese of Southwark: CLICK HERE.
- The official Preparatory Document – particularly the section “Ten Thematic Nuclei to be Explored: CLICK HERE.
“… We recall that the purpose of the Synod, and therefore of this consultation, is not to produce documents, but “to plant dreams, draw forth prophecies and visions, allow hope to flourish, inspire trust, bind up wounds, weave together relationships, awaken a dawn of hope, learn from one another and create a bright resourcefulness that will enlighten minds, warm hearts, give strength to our hands …”
Pope Francis, Address at the Opening of the Synod of Bishops on Young People (3 October 2018)
CONTACT THE ST EDMUND’S SYNOD TEAM: BECKENHAMSYNOD@RCAOS.ORG.UK