Franciscan Sister Responds: What Does Synodality Mean?

Sister JulieAnn Sheahan

February 26, 2022

Franciscan Sister Sister Leonette Kochan shares on the Synod called by Pope Francis. She is a member of the General Administration of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity. Previously, an elementary school teacher and principal in Wisconsin, Ohio and Arizona, she also served as Coordinator of the Diocese of Tucson Office of Human Life and Dignity.

What does SYNODALITY mean?

These words from Pope Francis may help in explaining what it means to be “synodal.”

“A synodal Church is a Church which listens, which

realizes that listening ‘is more than simply hearing’.  It is a mutual listening in which everyone has something to learn.  The faithful people, the college of bishops, the Bishop of Rome:  all listening to each other, and all listening to the Holy Spirit, the ‘spirit of truth’ (Jn. 14:170, in order to know what he ‘says to the Churches.’ ’’ (Rev. 2:7) (Pope Francis, Oct. 17, 2017)

“Synodality enables the entire People of God to walk forward together, listening to the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, to participate in the mission of the Church…” (Vademecum, the Official Handbook of the Synod, #1.2)

Perhaps in practical terms, synodality is the opposite of organizational leaders or selected “experts” telling their membership what is best for them, what is the path forward for them.  Rather, the synodality process invites all members to come to the conversation table in a spirit of collaboration, recognizing everyone’s wisdom.  In this process, the path forward is mutually developed by all participants.

Given this understanding of synodality, it becomes clear why the theme of the Synod is Communion, Participation, Mission.  All people of God are invited to actively and communally engage in discerning and living out the mission of Jesus.

How can I participate?

Be a seeker, check out local parishes or dioceses to learn of possible groups to join that are engaged in the synod process at the grassroots level.  Join synod listening sessions or a faith based group that is participating in the synod process.  Some groups are ecumenical.

Be informed.  Search the internet for synod 2021 – 2023 to find current synod news and how to subscribe to receive updates.

Pray that hearts and minds will be open to sincere listening and Spirit-led decisions in carrying out the mission of Jesus.

RSVP to the invitation!

Speak Your Mind