By Barb Arland-Fye
Another Sunday night in the Fye household and the guys were watching football in the family room. I complained from the kitchen that we needed to do something together, even something as simple as holding a conversation. The opening session of the Diocesan Synod was on my mind, prompting me to suggest that perhaps we needed to open a Fye Family Synod.
Pope Francis calls Catholics around the world to begin this synodal process, which he describes as journeying together to discover where the Holy Spirit is leading our Church. Our thoughts, ideas and dreams will become part of a larger dialogue among the world’s bishops and Pope Francis two years from now.
I asked my husband Steve and our sons Colin and Patrick to share their thoughts about what the Church means to them and what we can do to reach out to others. They did not offer heartfelt responses about what the Church means to them. I realize now that we need to ground our dialogue in prayer, as Pope Francis advises. My family was quick to respond to the question of how to reach out to others. “More contemporary music would help,” Steve said. I think we need to dig deeper in dialogue to contemplate the role of music.
Our son Patrick said, “You need to invite someone to church, whether in person or on social media.” A friend of Patrick’s, an Evangelical Christian, had just posted an enthusiastic message on social media inviting his friends to check out his church. In past years, Patrick’s non-Catholic friends have invited him to services in their churches, which he attended and appreciated. He has talked with his friends regarding their reservations about the Catholic Church. His comment gave me the idea to consider asking a small group of Evangelical Christians to enter a dialogue with us. The invitation would require me to step out of my comfort zone. What if they say no? The Holy Spirit will continue to nudge me.…
Patrick also reminded me that he and his classmates in a marketing class at St. Ambrose University in Davenport immersed themselves in the life of a Christian church of another denomination to help the congregation reach out beyond its membership. A focus group fostered dialogue that helped the church’s pastor and congregation to consider how they were perceived outside of their membership.
Dialogue for Colin is a bit more challenging because of his autism. The Handbook or “Vademecum” for the Synod on Synodality notes, “The entire People of God shares a common dignity and vocation through Baptism. All of us are called in virtue of our Baptism to be active participants in the life of the Church.” Furthermore, the Handbook states, “As the Church embarks on this synodal journey, we must strive to ground ourselves in experiences of authentic listening and discernment on the path of becoming the Church that God calls us to be.” Maybe the Holy Spirit is prompting me to work with people knowledgeable in the area of developmental disabilities to help us to listen to these individuals with the ears of the heart.
Preparation for dialogue in the Diocesan Synod takes place in November and the Diocesan Synod Committee will update the resources along the way on its webpage (https://tinyurl.com/vupeh575). Through the synodal process, we journey together with one another as the People of God. Then we journey together as the People of God with the entire human family. Even more reason for that journey to begin in my own family.
(Contact Editor Barb Arland-Fye at email@example.com)