October 22, 2021

Archbishop Thompson celebrates Mass to start synodal process in archdiocese

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson preaches a homily during an Oct. 17 Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis that began the archdiocese’s participation in the preparation for a 2023 meeting at the Vatican of the Synod of Bishops on synodality in the Church. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson preaches a homily during an Oct. 17 Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis that began the archdiocese’s participation in the preparation for a 2023 meeting at the Vatican of the Synod of Bishops on synodality in the Church. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

The Church in central and southern Indiana joined dioceses around the world on Oct. 17 in beginning its participation in the preparation for a 2023 meeting of the Synod of Bishops.

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson celebrated a Mass that day in SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis that began the archdiocese’s contribution to the synod meeting.

Unlike the usual practice of Sundays in Ordinary Time in the Church’s liturgical calendar in which green vestments are worn, Archbishop Thompson wore red vestments for the liturgy, noting at the start that they “remind us of how we call upon the Holy Spirit to guide and direct, to be with us through this process.”

The 2023 synod meeting at the Vatican and the preparation for it in the archdiocese and in dioceses around the world has as its theme, “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission.” Pope Francis called for this theme to help Catholics around the world—lay faithful, religious and clergy—to experience what it means to come together to discern with the help of the Holy Spirit how the Church is called to live out its mission in this time in history.

In his homily during the Mass, Archbishop Thompson emphasized that humility is essential for the success of the faithful coming together in such a process.

“This is not a time of self-seeking privilege or weak-mindedness, but a time for opening our minds to the Spirit and our hearts to one another,” he said. “We must check our egos and personal agendas at the door while praying for courage, humility and generosity to permeate our experience over these next several months of attentive listening, speaking from the heart and acting with mutual respect.”

Catholics across central and southern Indiana will have opportunities to contribute to the preparation for the synod through an online survey, which can be found at www.archindy.org/SynodSurvey beginning on Wednesday, October 27.

Parish councils across the archdiocese will also be invited to take part in the process. Parishioners can share their concerns with the members of their parish council.

Although individual Catholics may have wide and varied contributions to the synod preparation process, Archbishop Thompson invited his listeners to keep Christ at the heart of their vision for the future of the Church.

“It would be good for us to remember that it is his Church, his body, his mission, of which we are privileged to be members,” he said. “In this way, we keep our sights set on the kingdom of God rather than that of the world or of our own thinking.”

To keep this Christ-centered perspective, Archbishop Thompson said following the guidance of the Holy Spirit is a necessity.

“Ultimately, we must be open to the movement and guidance of the Holy Spirit,” he said. “How is God calling us in this particular time and space? It is not so much a matter of whether God is speaking, but how we are to listen and discern his voice amid all the chaos of voices contending for our attention.”

At the end of his homily, Archbishop Thompson suggested various questions that might guide Catholics’ participation in the synodal process.

“How do we continue the mission of healing wounds and warming hearts today?” he asked. “What barriers need to be removed in order to enhance communion and participation while honoring the mission entrusted to us as Church by Jesus Christ himself?

“Before us is great challenge, great opportunity. A daunting task, but grace-filled, if we are Christ-centered. In the end, it is all about glorifying the Holy Trinity—God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit—for the sake of our salvation, not merely as individuals, but as people of God.”

Laura Sheehan, a member of St. Barnabas Parish in Indianapolis, was glad to take part in the Mass with her 6-year-old daughter Adelaide.

“Anytime that we can participate in something that the universal Church is doing is exciting,” said Sheehan, who also serves as project coordinator for social concerns for archdiocesan Catholic Charities.

She was encouraged to hear Archbishop Thompson speak about how the synodal process is a chance for the faithful of the Church to see how they can respond to the challenges facing society today with the hope of the Gospel.

“All of those things are things that we work with on a daily basis [in Catholic Charities],” Sheehan said. “It was nice to hear that addressed in his homily. The themes of communion, participation and mission were really cool, too, to have put at the front of our minds. To hear someone in authority in the Church talk about those aspects of the Church’s life was refreshing.” †

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