DETROIT — Just about every member of Synod 16 can agree, the Holy Spirit was definitely present at the Westin Book Cadillac hotel Nov. 18-20.
Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron’s call to “change the very DNA” of the Archdiocese of Detroit had synod members on fire with the Spirit in discussing what the archdiocese needs to do in order to become a “band of joyful missionary disciples.”
As the closing Mass was dismissed, synod members poured out of St. Aloysius Church, ready to set the archdiocese on fire with the Holy Spirit.
But the question remains: now what? After three days of intense prayer, reflection, deliberation and discussion, how do synod members take the spirit of Synod 16 back to their families, their parishes and their communities?
“I was just amazing about how open everyone was to the Spirit, what discussions we were kind of led to,” said Jan Czarnota, a synod member from St. Kieran Parish in Shelby Township. “I’ve spoken with Msgr. (Thomas) Johnson, our pastor, and speaking with family about the synod. It has brought about a few different broadening conversations, like an extension of the Holy Spirit, seeking new topics to discuss.”
The time after the synod has given members a chance to reflect for themselves about what happened during the small table and large group discussions, and to look forward to Pentecost, when Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron will release his own interpretation of the synod.
“I’m really looking forward to Archbishop Vigneron’s takeaways,” said Yvonne Graves, a parishioner at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament. “I’m really happy with some of the things he said about the Central Region, how we voted saying we need to be concerned about cultural differences within our parish, and he noticed all the Central Region parishes voted for that proposition. That all the tables of color put it in the top 3, that it has to be addressed.”
While the entire archdiocese is waiting for Archbishop Vigneron’s Pentecost address, Graves said it’s important for synod members to start having an impact in the parishes now.
“People need to continue to pray, knowing this is a jumping off point, not a termination,” Graves said. “This is a step along the way; the process is ongoing. Some of keeping the spirit of the synod going is up to the people in the pews. I’ve learned that there is hope, for the archdiocese and the parish.”
Many synod members have made informal reports to their pastors and parish councils, discussing ways to encourage evangelization.
“I’m going to be talking to our parish council and with our pastor, probably in January, giving an in-depth report to our parish,” said Gladys Bosel of St. Francis of Assisi-St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish in Ray Township. “Father and I are going to present a report to the entire parish, presenting visible ideas taken away from the synod.”
Synod members said they were impressed with the amount of devotion both the synod support staff and members had to their faith, the amount of time and dedication that went into the overall logistics and preparation of the historic meeting.
“It was marvelous to see the deep devotion of the people; the culture we live in isn’t conducive to much in the way of religion, but you could see people be so devoted to their Church,” Bosel said. “I was touched to find people in our faith so devoted to our faith and our leadership, so willing to help in any way they could. I can’t wait for people to get the report from the archbishop, and I think people will be happy when they do.”
Of all the impacts the synod might have on the Archdiocese of Detroit, arguably the biggest might very well be on the individual members who were there, many of whom were touched by the authentic care Archbishop Vigneron had for the success of the synod and concerns for its members.
“To see the authenticity of the archbishop in transforming the archdiocese into a band of joyful, missionary disciples, it was truly amazing,” said Eric Riedy of Our Lady of La Salette Parish in Berkley. “It was amazing how much work went into it all, how he really wants us to succeed.”
Several members said participation in Synod 16 has had a profound impact on their faith — one they never really imagined.
“I would say when I was first selected, we filled out questionnaires and I was picked, but I wasn’t so sure about what that meant,” Riedy said. “But with all the prayers and preparation … I’ve gone to Eucharistic adoration in the past, but this has done wonders for my faith life. As a younger person, it really made me realize I need to be on fire for the Lord. In the most humble way, being a member of the synod has made me a better person.”
Michigan Catholic seeks ‘signs and wonders’
During the opening session of Synod 16, Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron asked synod members to consider, among other things, the role “signs and wonders” might play in the work of evangelization. Biblically, the archbishop noted, such signs — which often came in the form of healings, answered prayers or simply graced occurrences — accompanied the proclamation of the Gospel by the first apostles. In modern times, while such signs often do not get the attention they deserve, they still do happen. To help the archbishop with his request, The Michigan Catholic is reaching out to ask its readers to tell us the “signs and wonders” in their own lives. Has your family been the recipient of an answered prayer? Do you know someone whom the Gospel has touched in a particularly powerful way? Our hope is to encourage as many Catholics as possible to share their story as a way to “Unleash the Gospel” and show the world that God still does work in powerful and extraordinary ways. Send your story to firstname.lastname@example.org or The Michigan Catholic, 12 State St., Detroit, MI 48226.