DETROIT — Members of the archdiocesan synod on evangelization are being notified of their selection to participate in this fall’s historic gathering of Catholics from across the Archdiocese of Detroit.
Msgr. Ronald Browne, appointed by Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron as secretary of the 2016 synod, said the majority of the more than 400 synod members have been identified and confirmed.
“Members who are coming from the parishes, who’ve been elected by the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, those members are all in place and they and their pastors have been notified,” Msgr. Browne told The Michigan Catholic.
The synod will be made up of participants from all walks of Church life, from lay parishioners to bishops, priests, deacons, religious, seminary and curia staff. Some members are appointed directly by the archbishop, while others are nominated by their pastors or other leaders.
Clergy participants who were elected by their vicariate peers and some members of religious communities have also been notified of their appointment, said Msgr. Browne, who added the roster could still grow or change if the archbishop decides to appoint people to fill a certain need, such as from the youth and young adult community or theological experts.
Synod participants’ names are expected to be made public in the coming weeks and months, said Msgr. Browne, who also serves as judicial vicar for the Archdiocese of Detroit.
Each parish was asked to select individuals based on their receptivity to the Holy Spirit and passion for evangelization, he said.
“We sent out a letter to all of our pastors to solicit three applicants — parishioners whom they thought were open-minded about evangelization, willing to let the Holy Spirit work through them, willing to dialogue, be prayerful and discerning and be open to preparation for the synod,” Msgr. Browne said.
Between now and Nov. 18, when the three-day synod begins in downtown Detroit, members will be expected to prepare by reading Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”), taking time each week to pray before the Blessed Sacrament and attending events in conjunction with the archdiocese’s “Unleash the Gospel” initiative.
Synod members will take part in parish dialogue sessions, set to begin in March or April, and attend regional meetings in the fall. Then, at the synod itself, members will be charged with helping the archbishop prayerfully consider the topics and questions that will make up the primary work of the synod.
Those topics and questions will be more fully formed after the parish dialogue sessions, Msgr. Browne said, in which parishioners will be invited to take part in town hall-style formats to discuss what the archdiocese should do to move the mission of evangelization forward.
The sessions will focus on “how we can make our parishes true parishes of evangelization and places where people can become missionary disciples,” Msgr. Browne said. “How is the Holy Spirit guiding us to truly embrace and live the Gospel and share that with others?”
The goal is for each parish to host at least one dialogue session between March and June. Several pilot dialogue sessions have already been held, at Holy Family Parish in Memphis, Our Lady of Sorrows in Farmington, Assumption Grotto in Detroit, St. Damian of Molokai in Pontiac, St. Paul on the Lake in Grosse Pointe Farms and at Sacred Heart Major Seminary.
“There’s a couple reasons for the parish dialogue sessions,” Msgr. Browne said. “Information is what we’re initially looking for, but we also found it’s been a good community builder.”
Msgr. Browne said the dialogue sessions, like the synod itself, will emphasize evangelization and an openness to the Holy Spirit.
“Everybody we’ve asked to be a member of the synod, we’ve asked to come with an open mind and an open heart to let the Holy Spirit guide us,” Msgr. Browne said.
“So we don’t have any preconception about what’s going to come out of this synod because we want to let the Holy Spirit work.”
Typically after a diocesan synod, the presiding bishop will take the information he’s given, pray about it and produce a document reflecting the synod’s work and promulgating any changes, Msgr. Browne said. However, what form that might take is still a great unknown.
“Everything is in preparation for how we can really embrace the New Evangelization,” he said, “and the term we’re using is how we can ‘unleash the Gospel’ for the whole Archdiocese of Detroit.”
Unleash the Gospel
“Unleash the Gospel,” the Archdiocese of Detroit’s evangelization initiative, includes several opportunities for personal growth and reflection as Synod ‘16 approaches:
- “Come, Encounter Christ!” three-day evangelization missions featuring Eucharistic adoration, live music, special lighting and dynamic preaching. Events are held in every vicariate through June.
- Pilgrimages through the Holy Door of Mercy at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament.
- The Amazing Parish Conference at the Detroit Renaissance Center, April 18-20, for pastors and parish leaders to learn new strategies for evangelization and parish growth.
- 24 Hours for the Lord, a Vatican-sponsored, round-the-clock opportunity for Lenten reflection, confession and Eucharistic adoration, will be observed in multiple parishes March 4-5. To find a location, visit www.aod.org/24hours.
For more information on Unleash the Gospel events, visit www.aod.org/unleash.