Holy Infancy Parish
Synod Summary of Reflections
Reflections on Participation in Life of the Church
Synodality is at the core of the mission of the Church in which all members are called to participate. Walking together is only possible if it is based on communal listening to the Word and the celebration of the Eucharist.
- Describe those that you encountered in the Synod process. Were they Catholic since birth? A convert? Fallen away? What was the average age of those you spoke with? Please feel free to share any summary demographic information you feel is helpful.
Majority of our participants were raised Catholic and completed their Sacraments. Some participants are RCIA / convert / married a Catholic. PREP parents are raising their children Catholic and completing their sacraments through PREP while a few parents have their child(ren) in Catholic School. Mass participation is a mix of active and inactive Mass goers. Participants are from the three major cultures in our Parish: American, Hispanic, and Portuguese/Brazilians. Age range is majority from mid 30’s to 70’s, about 5 young adults, and about 10 youth.
- How was their relationship with the Church today? How did those you encountered describe their Parish experience? Where do they find joy in their parish experience? Does this experience help them make decisions in their life?
The relationship of our participants with the Church today is for the most part good and growing. There has been a difference in their faith practice when they were young (e.g. coming to church as children, faith based out of fear); drifting in adolescence; changing in perspective once they have their own children (a mix crowd of desiring to pass on the faith to their children, and another crowd of finding it hard to participate in the life of the church because of their children). There’s also a growth in understanding the faith as participants become adults.
With regards to the spirit of welcoming and inclusion, although we are a multicultural parish, there is a lack of unity within the groups. There is also a lack of youth involvement. Participants also expressed that we are not as welcoming towards visitors and occasional participants.
Majority find their Joy in the Eucharist; involvement in the church through different groups/ ministries / or activities; community building; joy in nourishing faith through meditation, Word of God, Confession, Mass, homily.
Participation in parish helps to inspire important decisions in life; helps you grow spiritually, communally, in commitments, marriage and family life decisions. Being a part of the parish also shapes relationships and friendships. Priests too have had positive impacts with our participants.
- What did people think the mission of the Church is? What areas of mission is the Church fulfilling? What areas need more attention? What areas are being neglected?
There is a great need of attention in the areas of Evangelization, Youth involvement, and Adult on-going formation. There is a need to teach and spread the Gospel to the community, find ways and opportunities to involve the youth, and not enough programs available for adults after receiving their Sacraments.
Dialogue in Church and Society
Listening is the first step, but it requires an open mind and heart without judgment. All are invited to speak with courage and in freedom, truth, and charity.
- Did those you encounter describe their Parish or experience with the Church to be one rich with diversity and inclusivity? Did they describe a Parish and Church that dialogues and listens to the larger community they serve?
The Parish is diverse, inclusive, trilingual and open to different cultures. Yet, even though our parish is open to different cultures, some people feel that there is lack of communication within the Parish, internally. Yes there is space for listening, growing, reaching out to those suffering. Yet at the same time there is a need to reach out to the inactive members, youth, LGBTQ+, parents that prepare their children but never come to church, young families, and youth. Parents with children need to feel they are welcome to stay when their child starts crying during Mass, a need for more religious preparation, and most of all not be judgmental.
While some are skeptical if there’s action being done after listening, the majority says the Catholic Church listens to the whole People of God and sees this synod as one way of listening and the church being open to the needs of the people. A lot also agreed that we, as a Church, are open and welcoming to other religions and commends Fr. Andy specifically for his openness to dialogue with those in need of Sacraments or making people feel welcome at Mass even if they are not Catholic.
- What issues in the Church and community came up that people felt should be highlighted and addressed more often?
People felt that the following issues in the Church and community should be highlighted: poverty, abortion, strengthening family life, 10 commandments, homosexuality, marginalized, solutions not politics, drug addiction and homelessness. Two other big highlights are Youth and Adult Formation. Youth formation must open other ways to catechize along with parents, new schedules, and more time for youth to gather and be mentored. Adults need more Bible formation, honesty with topics, financial transparency, understanding and participating more fully in Mass.
- In general, would you say that those you encountered were aware of tools and procedures that the Church uses to promote transparency and accountability?
Most participants answered “Yes”
Most participants gave the following tools for transparency: through spiritual and material resources (FORMED.org, Dynamic Catholic, or any shared documents), technology (Facebook, church website), bulletin, parish announcements, reporting Child Abuse, Mandatory reporting, and this Synod as a way of transparency.
Catholic Identity and your Relationship with God
In the Church and in society, we are all side by side on the same road to heaven.
- In reflecting on those you encountered, how did they describe their relationship with God? Is it fulfilling? Why or why not?
The participants describe their relationship with God as good, evolving, and fulfilling while, at the same time, also recognizing there’s room to strive more and it is a work in progress. In all circumstances, there is gratitude for the good and the bad times. The busy world also takes us away from God therefore prayer and the necessity of having regular conversations with God is needed.
- What ways did people identify as helpful in growing their faith? (books, clergy, retreats, services, etc.)
We can also grow in faith with people who have experiences, having spiritual guides or mentors, priests, accountability partners, participation in faith sharing or small groups, parish ministries, service works, events. A majority find Bible/Scripture meditation and retreats helpful in growing their faith. Other ways also include Daily Mass, Adoration, spiritual books or pamphlets, Catechism, rosary, FORMED.org, website, social media, and the use of technology.
Ways we Journey Together as a Universal, Catholic Faith Community
Synodality entails receptivity to change, formation, and on-going learning with a spirit of perseverance and patience.
- In reflecting on what you heard in all the Synod conversations, please summarize where you heard the voice of the Holy Spirit. What are we being asked to do?
The participants recognize the voice and presence of the Holy Spirit everywhere: in times of prayer, people, events, good and bad circumstances in life, what they do, and within themselves. There is a common theme of grounding oneself in prayer and having a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit and then carrying the relationship into service to the community and youth involvement. A call to action in unity through opportunities for inviting and gathering as a Church community with Jesus as the center and a mission in mind, space for conversation, getting-to-know, faith sharing, and focus on youth.
- Is there any other feedback that you would like to provide?
The synod itself was a positive opportunity in building community, creating relationships, sharing, and it contains thought provoking reflection questions. God’s call continues to pass on to us up to the present moment and we strive to respond through our prayer life, service, and efforts in building our Church.
As a local Parish, we will be using the answers we collected to help us discern how we can best live our mission statement: “We follow Jesus in His Catholic Church, who sends us to “go forth and make disciples” of the Lord. — Matthew 28:19”