Detroit — A lot of work goes into producing a synod. Beyond the logistics of gathering almost 400 people from every corner of the Archdiocese of Detroit to a single three-day event, there’s lots to consider.
For starters, there’s the canonical aspects. Because a synod is an ecclesiastical event, there are rules and procedures to be followed, canons to be consulted and specific people who must be involved.
Then, there’s the process of dialoguing with regular, everyday Catholics from across the archdiocese, gathering input and carefully sifting through thousands of responses in an effort to involve everyone in what leaders hope will be a transformative process.
Finally, there’s the laborious task of organizing those responses into coherent, actionable propositions for the synod to consider, synthesizing ideas and bringing clarity and focus out of a wide range of discussions.
Check, check and check.
As archdiocesan leaders make final preparations for the historic gathering of Synod 16, however, the most important work isn’t being done in meeting rooms or social halls. It’s being done in churches and adoration chapels.
That’s because for more than two years, teams of prayer warriors from all over southeast Michigan have dedicated themselves to the success of the Archdiocese of Detroit’s synod, storming heaven with petitions and asking God to pour out his Spirit upon the gathering’s leaders and members.
Patti Koval, a member of Holy Name Parish in Birmingham, is part of a small team of Catholics who have been tasked with organizing prayer efforts for the synod since its planning began in earnest in 2014.
“We’ve been working together for almost two and a half years. It’s been a beautiful bonding of hearts and souls,” Koval said. “There’s two women and four men from different and diverse backgrounds. All of us brought together some ideas on how to extend the prayer team into all parishes to prepare and pray for the synod.”
The archdiocesan-sponsored prayer and intercession team, led by Fr. Robert Spezia of Sacred Heart Major Seminary, grew out of similar efforts related to the Changing Lives Together capital campaign, which established prayer teams in almost every parish in the archdiocese.
Since then, Koval said, the prayer team’s primary focus has been on making sure as many people as possible are offering intercessions for the synod, which will take place Nov. 18-20 at the Westin Book Cadillac in downtown Detroit.
“As we did our research and reached out, we got 50 parishes to participate in intercessory prayer for the Holy Spirit to come upon this beautiful synod we’re going to be having next month,” Koval said. “We met every two weeks to a month for two years. We prayed together, we fasted, we got involved with some regional gatherings … we met with people, prayed with them and we had turnouts of a hundred-plus.”
As the synod grows ever closer, efforts to encourage prayer are intensifying, said Msgr. Ronald Browne, the 2016 synod’s secretary.
In addition to inviting Catholics to join in praying the official synod prayer, which is being made available to parishes via prayer cards that can be ordered through the archdiocese’s print shop, a novena for the synod’s intentions will be offered from Nov. 10 until the opening Mass on Nov. 18, Msgr. Browne said.
“A novena is nine days of prayer leading up to a special event, a special day or for a special intention,” said Msgr. Browne, who also serves as judicial vicar for the archdiocese’s Metropolitan Tribunal. “It’s almost always directed to a specific saint or the Holy Spirit or Jesus for a particular purpose. In this case, we’re asking people to pray for the intentions of the synod.”
Those interested in praying the novena will be able to find more information on the Archdiocese of Detroit’s Facebook page, where daily videos will be posted with synod leaders offering the novena prayers starting Nov. 10.
In addition, parishes across the archdiocese are being asked to contribute to a “spiritual bouquet,” offering intercessions and works of mercy, as well as hosting holy hours of Eucharistic adoration during the synod itself, praying in real time for the members, leaders and their discernment.
The synod, whose purpose is to spark a renewed focus on missionary evangelism, is too important to undertake without a firm foundation in the Holy Spirit, Koval said.
“We need to have some sort of renewal. People really need to get in touch with who Jesus Christ is, and what our relationship is with him,” Koval said. “In our meeting together, (Archbishop Vigneron) said it was ‘time that we are brought to a new normal.’ He reached out to the prayer team, and we together prayed for the work of the Holy Spirit.
“Every parish is asked to pray for the wisdom and the grace of the Holy Spirit as all of the members meet together on all of these different propositions that are being placed in front of us,” said Koval, who also is serving as a member of the synod. “We’re praying for the success of the synod and its message of renewal. We’re praying for the individuals involved, the clergy, pastors of their parishes, and all of the members who will come together in this very holy time.”
Prayer for Synod 16
“God our Father, you have called us to be witnesses to Jesus and have sent us on a mission to lead all people to encounter him. Send your Holy Spirit to enlighten our minds and enkindle our hearts, so that we may grow daily as your disciples. Empower us to face bravely the challenges of our time. Keep us close to you, together with Jesus your Son, Mary our Mother, and St. Anne our patroness as we engage in Synod 16 to Unleash the Gospel. Transform us into a band of joyful missionary disciples, who will bring the message of Jesus’ power and mercy to every person in Southeast Michigan. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.”
Contribute to the spiritual bouquet
A spiritual bouquet with prayers, Mass intentions and other spiritual acts done by Catholics around the Archdiocese of Detroit for the intentions of Synod 16 is being collected and will be presented as a gift to Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron during the Nov. 18-20 gathering. Add your prayers to the bouquet.