Pope Francis has called for a Worldwide Church Synod in 2023. The Holy Father wants to hear from the whole Church about what is happening in local parishes. He and the bishops would like to know what individuals think we should all be doing to help make our parishes better. The way he has proposed doing this is a synodal process. Synod means “journeying together” and it involves listening to the Holy Spirit and to each other in order to discern the path we are called to walk together.
The synod “is intended to inspire people to dream about the Church we are called to be, to make people’s hopes flourish, to stimulate trust, to bind up wounds, to weave new and deeper relationships, to learn from one another, to build bridges, to enlighten minds, warm hearts, and to restore strength to our hands for our common mission.” Synod Handbook”
To live as a synodal Church, parishes are being asked to live, practice and reflect on what living as synodal Church means. This includes three areas of reflection: Communion, Participation and Mission.
This is to include:
Communion – which is to lead to a conversion to Christ and a commitment to active participation in the mission given by Christ.
Participation – which promotes the people of God to talk to one another and listen to one another about questions that matter to them.
Mission – our communion exists for a common purpose of mission which flows from the experience of communion to go out to the world.
Recently a survey was prepared asking for parish input, reflection and participation
The responses to the survey and our Parish Synodal Meeting were gathered and summarized for our Diocese along with the other parishes on Long Island. Together these reflections will be offered to the bishops of our country who in turn will coordinate a response to the Holy Father for the Synod of Bishops who will gather together with the Holy Father in 2023. A summary of our parish responses is listed below.
We are grateful for your response and your participation in the life of the Church. Hopefully, this time of reflection will strengthen our commitment to a fuller participation in the life of our Church here in Bayville.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Rev. Msgr. Robert O. Morrissey
Synod Meeting Report
DRVC – Parish Meetings
Church of St. Gertrude, Bayville, NY
1(a) What do you feel unites us most as Roman Catholics?
Our respect for, and participation in, the Sacraments – particularly The Eucharist – and our obedience to the Commandments
The fact that the Mass is Universal (i.e., the same prayers throughout the world) and a sacred tradition that does not change to conform to the secular world
The ability to discover new things about our faith and to develop a connection with Jesus by attending Mass and receiving Him in The Eucharist
Sharing our faith experiences (i.e., belief in The Trinity, Jesus’ real presence in The Eucharist, etc.)
Our faith in the fact that God is all-loving and forgiving
Our belief in sacramentals
Our belief and love of God unite us
Gathering events (i.e., Hospitality Sunday, the Parish Feast, etc.)
1(b) Does anything in your opinion stand in the way of unity?
People not knowing, not understanding, and/or not practicing their faith
Conflict between the political world and the social world
Clergy who refuse to uphold and/or preach about the Church’s sacred teachings
Not enough instruction regarding the reception of, and the true presence of Jesus in, The Eucharist
Society has become more secular, and the Church has become more flexible in its expectations from people.
Outside activities scheduled for Sundays and other worldly distractions that keep people from attending Mass (i.e., sporting events, activities, etc.)
Some are leaving the Catholic Church and attending other Christian churches for various reasons (i.e., they prefer a particular church’s ministries, church leaders, etc.)
Those who form their own beliefs lack understanding of the Church’s teaching
Not having enough gathering opportunities (i.e., Hospitality Sunday)
People being judgmental of others
Drop off in Mass attendance. Many who left due to COVID have not returned.
Not being as inclusive as we could be
Too much emphasis on Church as an Institution
2(a) When have you felt most involved in our parish?
When serving as a Eucharistic Minister, Lector, Catechist/teaching CCD, Baptism preparation, etc.
When teaching, evangelizing, and planning
When attending daily Mass and Divine Mercy Holy Hours
When participating in parish events (i.e., the Parish Feast, Hospitality Sunday, decorating the church for Christmas and Easter, etc.)
When singing at Mass
When our children were growing up
When we trust He is calling us to be involved
When accepting friends/parishioners as vessels
2(b) What could we be doing to help you feel more involved?
Nothing. There are many opportunities. It’s up to us to participate.
Work to ensure that everyone realizes they have a special role at church irrespective of the size of their responsibility.
Have more emphasis on Jesus and His message as set forth in the Gospels
Have greeters at the doors of the church. We are visiting God’s home. Welcome people as you would welcome them to your own home.
Conduct more outreach to attract the non-involved parishioner. Convey to them that they are relevant to us, that they are missed, and that their well-being is important to their family at St. Gertrude’s. (Spotlight a parishioner on a monthly basis.)
Make personal phone calls to each parishioner (from the Pastor or other representative of the parish) just as an introduction and reminder that we are here.
Create more small groups (i.e., men’s group, youth group, 20’s-30’s singles groups, etc.). Once involved in a group of like-minded parishioners, people will be more likely to return to Mass.
Invest more time in outreach to families, providing opportunities for them to be actively involved in the Mass (i.e., serving as lectors, bringing up the gifts, serving as ushers, etc.) and encouraging them to serve as part of the Family Mass Committee
Use the website more as a way to attract people to our Church (and weekly Mass). Provide opportunities for users to write, comment, and/or ask questions (online) or direct them to someone with whom they can communicate directly. Many people have questions, and it is important to open a dialogue with them.
Allow others to participate in the ongoing work of the Church (i.e., opening an invitation to decorate the church for holidays to all). This way we would be assured of their attendance not just for the holiday but generally more frequently. When people feel involved and welcomed, they will attend Mass more often.
Include music at Mass that everyone knows
Allow parishioners to, once again, serve as Eucharistic Ministers
3(a) What are the ministries you feel are most effective at doing God’s work in our parish?
All ministries are effective and play a vital role
CCD, Extraordinary Ministers, Family Life Ministry, Finance Committee, Lectors (including youth), RCIA
Rosary Guild, St. Vincent DePaul and trained altar servers
The ministries that spread the Gospel. We should have Committees for educational seminars and host author/speaker engagements which will bring more people to the Church
3(b) Where might our efforts to evangelize and serve be lacking?
In providing outreach to (and activities for) the young teenage and college students (i.e., youth nights, pizza parties, snow shoveling job opportunities); 20’s-30’s singles; and young married couples/families (i.e., perhaps “Mommy and Me” groups, etc.)
In providing instruction on the doctrines of our faith (esp. difficult issues like abortion)
In offering counseling (or information about counseling) to those who have had an abortion
In facilitating small prayer groups (which might also attract people who don’t attend Mass)
In encouraging more novenas
In our education of eighth-grade confirmation students. These students need to be prepared with special class sessions to meet the atheistic challenges to their Catholic faith that they will encounter in High Schools and Colleges.
In advertising (online or through print media). Some local churches and synagogues place advertisements in local newspapers inviting people to their services (particularly during holidays). Maybe we could place advertisements as well.
The celebration of the Mass needs to be more contemporary, especially the music
In encouraging more people to participate
4. What is the one thing you love about St. Gertrude’s
Our pastor and the welcoming feeling he conveys, connecting with us personally
The beauty of the church and the parishioners it serves
The sense of community our small parish provides to connect with the community and each other
The welcoming atmosphere and closeness of our parishioners
The peaceful feeling I get when I enter the church
It’s a small country church. A person can feel lost in a very large parish.
5. What is a dream you have for our parish?
That we would grow by winning over the young people, getting them into the fold, and involved in the Church.
Unity and support of our new pastor and the Church
Continued growth and response to God’s call
To see the church filled on Sundays and Holy Days
That the Holy Spirit will enlighten us so that we would all grow stronger in our faith
That it continues to flourish with a strong foundation of people truly united in the Gospel of Christ
That the renovations would be finished while maintaining financial stability for the future
6. Do you have any additional comments you wish to share about any of the questions above related to the larger Synod process or related to the Parish of St. Gertrude?
I feel very blessed to be a part of this parish.
Msgr. Morrissey and Fr. Gabriel do a wonderful job of celebrating Mass and leading our parish.
We need to focus on attracting young adults and young children.
I pray for the success of the Synod and that the Church be unified in its vision.
Are the Bishops united in their response to abortion and how to deal with people who do not follow the Commandments as they are? Can the Bishops provide instructions as to how you respond to these difficult situations?
Would we as a local church be affected by suggestions made by Churches in different parts of the world?
We need to make people feel they are important to the Church. Their personal commitments to their parishes, and monetary donations, serve the needs of all. We are still one Church united in our beliefs. People need to understand that their commitment to God is also a commitment to the church at home and at large. We must learn to stand up for the Church and not sit in judgment of the Church’s teachings. Sometimes we spend so much time fundraising for our parishes that we miss the important details. We wouldn’t need to fundraise if our pews were full.