On March 20, participants from Ss. Peter & Paul Catholic Church in Waterloo, St. Augustine in Hecker, St. Mary’s in Valmeyer and St. Patrick’s in Tipton participated in the worldwide Catholic Church’s Synod on Synodality.
Over 75 people gathered for prayerful listening and spiritual conversation, responding to the core questions the church is asking today: how are we, as parish communities, journeying together, and how might the spirit be calling us to grow in journeying together in the future?
Participants also shared their hopes and dreams for the church, as well as what they might continue to do today and what they might change.
The process included four rounds of conversation in which participants listened deeply as each person in the small group shared responses to questions given. Following each round of conversation, participants had a time of silence to prayerfully reflect on what they heard.
After all four conversations were finished, each small group reported back to the large group – including key insights that emerged at their table.
Common themes that emerged were first and foremost the importance of our church as community: one family, connected to each other, welcoming and inclusive of all. It was widely observed that we must be especially attractive and welcoming to our youth and those who have fallen away.
Many identified a need for creating/building a place to gather as a community.
“I was awestruck at the sharing, the love and the openness of the program,” Ss. Peter & Paul parishioner Suzan Knese said.
“The Synod has given me hope for the future of our Catholic Church. We have been invited by the Pope to help form a church that serves the needs of the entire world,” St. Augustine parishioner Debbie Harbaugh said.
“We came together as a family to talk about our spiritual journey. Like most families, there are challenges and successes, and the Church, as the family of God, is no exception. We offered up our thoughts on where we are and what we need from the Church to help us on our journey. In the end, we turn it over to faith in God that he will continue to lead His church as He has for thousands of years,” Ss. Peter & Paul parishioner Nathan Higgerson said.
“We had a successful morning Synod coming together with ideas, concerns and hopes for the future of the Catholic church both worldwide and locally. Everyone’s input was faithful and thoughtful,” Ss. Peter & Paul parishioner Carol Postlewait said.
As a result of this successful event, a similar listening session is being planned for the youth.
The event was led by two women in the parish: Joyce Springer, Pastoral Associate for Adult Faith Formation, and Dr. Karen Seaborn.
Each table group was facilitated by lay men and women.
Father Linus Umoren, CM (pastor of Ss. Peter & Paul and St. Augustine) and Father Evaristus Akabueze, CM (associate pastor) were present and participated in the small table conversations.
Fr. Linus said he “was quite impressed to see the number of people who showed up for the listening session; a sign that people were willing to own up their faith, accept the church as theirs and work together to build a church that is relevant to us today and tomorrow.”
Information obtained during this listening session will be compiled, summarized and sent to the Diocese of Belleville. Once the diocese has received similar reports from other parishes in Southern Illinois, it will put together a summary report to send to the Vatican in Rome.