Synod Listening Sessions Begin

September 12, 2016

Archbishop Richard Gagnon, far left, listens at the first of a series of Listening Sessions in the first phase of the Archdiocese of Winnipeg Synod.
Participants discuss issues in small groups during the first of a series of Listening Sessions in the first phase of the Archdiocese of Winnipeg Synod.
By James Buchok
The faithful spoke and Archbishop Richard Gagnon listened as the Synod for the Archdiocese of Winnipeg held  its first in a series of listening sessions to address three questions: What do you appreciate about your church? What is your vision for your archdiocese? What should be your church’s priorities?
Among the positives were expressions of a church that celebrates ethnic diversity and collaboration. Among the challenges is the need for the church to reach outside itself, beyond its structures, to a commitment to build a just society through gospel values.
There was much more said and heard at the 90-minute session at St. Paul’s High School Sept. 8, and there is much more to come at the nine additional listening sessions scheduled throughout the archdiocese from now until Nov. 5. Click here to go the Synod webpage for full details.
All are invited to express their opinion, including the baptized that are no longer active in the church and also, in the words of Archbishop Gagnon, “those who do not know Jesus Christ.” 
The sessions begin with a few minutes of silence to reflect on the three questions and, if one chooses, to write brief responses on forms that are provided. The next fifteen minutes are spent in group discussions followed by the main part of the gathering when all are invited to voice their feelings directly to Archbishop Gagnon. The archbishop listens, and only listens, while others record what is said. 
The spoken and written responses from the ten sessions will lead to the next part of the synod, the Focus Commissions, which will identify main themes that emerge from the Listening Sessions from which reports will be created to become working documents for the Synod General Sessions. The entire two-year synod plan can 
be seen in a slideshow on the Archdiocese of Winnipeg website; and those who cannot attend a Listening Session can go to the website and respond online.
“The synod is like a funnel,” said Archbishop Gagnon. “It’s wide on top, to hear what is in your hearts, and the thoughts are discerned downward to more specific initiatives and goals.”The archbishop admitted it is a bit overwhelming. “Who’s going to do all this?,” he asked jokingly, then answered;“We are.”
“I kept thinking this is a holy moment,” Archbishop Gagnon said. “This is a holy thing to express those thoughts that we have. I look at your each of your offerings as little gems of faith.”
The next Listening Sessions will take place: Tues., Sept. 13, 7 p.m. at St.  Anthony of Padua Parish, 250 Burrin Ave., Winnipeg; Wed., Sept. 14, 7 p.m. at St. Augustine's Parish, 327 Fourth St., Brandon, Man.; Sat., Oct. 8, 9:30 am to 2 St Kateri Tekakwitha Parish, Winnipeg; Thurs., Oct. 13, 7 p.m. at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, 4588 Roblin Blvd., Winnipeg; Sat., Oct. 15, 1 St. Viator's Parish, 307 Whitmore Ave E., Dauphin, Man.; Tues., Oct. 18, at 10 a.m. at Waywayseecappo First Nation; Wed., Oct. 19, 7 p.m. at St. Paul the Apostle Parish, 2400 Portage Ave., Winnipeg; with youth and young adults, 9:30 a.m. Sat., Oct. 22, at St. Peter’s Parish, 748 Keewatin St., Winnipeg; Sat., Nov. 5, 10 a.m. at Christ the King Parish, 315 2nd St. East, Stonewall, Man.  A session will also be held at Chez Nous / Our Place Drop-in Centre in downtown Winnipeg at a date to be determined. Click here to go the Synod webpage for full details.

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