Bishops offered their prayerful good wishes to all participants at the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which officially opened on 4 October with a celebration of the Eucharist in Saint Peter’s Square in the Vatican. The theme of the Synod is ‘For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission.’ At their Autumn General Meeting in Maynooth, bishops echoed Pope Francis’ comment that ‘without prayer there will be no Synod’ and invited people of faith to continue to pray incessantly over the coming weeks for all members of the Synodal Assembly.
Attending as representatives of the Bishops’ Conference to the Universal Synod in Rome are, Bishop Brendan Leahy of Limerick, and Bishop Alan McGuckian SJ of Raphoe. Also present at the Synod are Sister Mary Barron OLA, in her role as President of the International Union of Superiors General; Sister Patricia Murray IBVM, as Executive Secretary of the International Union of Superiors General; and, Rev Professor Eamon Conway, a priest of the Archdiocese of Tuam, who will serve the Synod as an ‘Expert and Facilitator’.
Irish Synodal Pathway
At their Autumn Meeting, bishops reflected on the initial two-year phase of the Irish Synodal Pathway that began in September 2021. As the announcement of the Irish Synodal Pathway and the Universal Synod coincided, this phase of the Irish Synodal Pathway became a period of prayer, listening and discernment, which involved a local and nationwide consultation based upon the themes of the Universal Synod.
The two-year term of the Steering Committee and Task Group for the Irish Synodal Pathway came to an end in September. The Steering Committee, co-chaired by Dr Nicola Brady and Father Declan Hurley of Meath, submitted its report, along with an accompanying research report, to the Bishops’ Conference for discussion during this meeting. Bishops dedicated their discussion to the content of both reports, facilitated by Ms Julieann Moran, General Secretary, and Task Group Convener Father Éamonn Fitzgibbon of Limerick. The reports outline several recommendations for the next steps in the Synodal Pathway, as well as proposals for the content and structure of future synodal assemblies in Ireland. Bishops thanked all members of the Steering Committee and Task Group for their generosity of time, work and commitment to the synodal process to date. Once finalised, both reports will be published.
The next three-year phase of the Irish Synodal Pathway is the planning phase, which will bring together and seek to implement the fruits and recommendations from the Initial Phase.