On 28 June members of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference met with the National Steering Committee and Task Group of the Irish Synodal Pathway, in Maynooth, for a day of dialogue and reflection as the Steering Committee continues to formulate its recommendations regarding the structure and content of the synodal pathway for the coming years in Ireland.
The Steering Committee is due to make its recommendations during the Autumn General Meeting of the Bishops’ Conference and thereafter hold a second national gathering towards the end of the year. The purpose of that gathering will be to explore together the learning from the process to date and to outline the recommendations for subsequent steps along the pathway.
At the Maynooth meeting, some of the questions reflected upon included consideration of the format and methodologies for the Synodal Pathway; themes to be explored synodally across the Church in Ireland, and other planning and governance questions.
All those gathered noted and welcomed the publication of the Instrumentum Laboris (working document) for the first session of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will take place from 4 to 29 October.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Bishop Brendan Leahy of Limerick, who serves as deputy-chairperson of the Synodal Steering Committee, expressed gratitude to the countless number of people who invested their commitment, time, energy, and prayer to each stage of the synodal process which has lead to the publication of the Instrumentum Laboris.
Bishop Leahy said, “In looking at what has happened so far, we can be very grateful for the commitment of so many. The journey continues and I wholeheartedly encourage Catholics across Ireland to continue to engage with the universal synodal process through ongoing prayer and discernment. To date, Ireland has made a valuable contribution to the Universal Synod with the National Synthesis that was prepared last year and the presentation of the Irish delegation at the Continental Assembly in Prague in February. We are awaiting the official confirmation from the Holy Father of the various delegations to the October assembly in Rome. That gathering, of course, isn’t just for those going to Rome. Each of us can continue to contribute in prayer and reflection to what is this Spirit-led ongoing conversation of renewal that aims to generate a pastoral and structural conversion in the life and mission of the Church at every level.”
Bishop Leahy also renewed the invitation from the Bishops’ Conference to join spiritually and, where possible, in ecumenical groups, in the ecumenical prayer vigil taking place on 30 September in Saint Peter’s Square, Rome, where leaders of other Christian Churches will gather with Pope Francis ahead of the opening of the Synod.