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February 22, 2022
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February 22, 2022

Caribbean dioceses share on Synod progress

This is the official logo for the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. Originally scheduled for 2022, the synod will take place in October 2023 to allow for broader consultation at the diocesan, national and regional levels. (CNS photo/courtesy Synod of Bishops)

The Antilles Episcopal Conference (AEC) hosted a virtual meeting on the Synod journey February 12, giving representatives from each country the opportunity to share about their progress and the challenges that are being encountered. Bishop Clyde Harvey of St George’s in Grenada chaired the meeting.

Although the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect the synodal journey, Caribbean dioceses/archdioceses are using creative ways to conduct the mission.

In-person and virtual training sessions, workshops and listening sessions are being conducted throughout the AEC. However, the strategies used may vary depending on what works for each country.

With the launch of the Synod on October 17, 2021, the Diocese of St John’s-Basseterre (Antigua & Barbuda) took the opportunity to begin their journey in a unique way.

A synodality symbol was handcrafted in Antigua and used at this Mass. Bishop Robert Llanos presented the symbol to a young child, who in turn passed it to the diocese’s Synod representatives. According to Noleen Azille, Antigua’s representative, “Symbolically, this cross with the mandate will travel across the Diocese as a journey together … By 2023, just before that meeting in Rome, the cross should return to the main cathedral.”

During the Advent novena (December 15–23, 2021) which took place in the Diocese of Georgetown, Guyana, people were given the opportunity to be listened to during Masses.

Guyana’s representative, Roxanne Douglas explained, “Instead of having a homily … there were questions asked and so we were having more of a conversation happening.”

The main idea behind this was to invoke a spirit of conversation. People shared their individual experiences and voiced their opinions.

The Diocese of Bridgetown, Barbados, was represented by Sr Cheryl Ann Cumberbatch. She said, “We needed to speak to different people who maybe, have not participated in the questionnaires.” Therefore, Bishop Neil Scantlebury of Bridgetown visited parishes to engage in conversations. These sessions were a blend of in-person and virtual as they were livestreamed on YouTube. Online comments and questions were brought to the attention of Bishop Scantlebury, and he was able to respond on the spot.

The Diocese of St George’s in Grenada produced a beautiful synod song titled ‘Listen’. Grenada’s representative, Fr Michael stated, “The media team has been appointed and they have been creating promotional materials – posters, brochures, videos … working on a skit in advertisement for secular media.”

Several activities are being planned for Lent including a retreat livestreamed via Facebook and on Zoom, to share more synodal resources with the wider population.

Dr Ruby Alleyne presented on behalf of the Archdiocese of Port of Spain. Dr Alleyne mentioned, “We are planning a concert, a Synod Concert … for Pentecost which will allow us to celebrate the consultations, celebrate the beginning of this synodality at the local level …”

The concert will take on an ecumenical flavour with participation from different religious backgrounds. During this television broadcast, synodal messages will be shared as the Church tries to positively impact society.

Representatives from Suriname, Martinique, Bermuda, Nassau, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Aruba, Jamaica, Belize, Dominica, and St Lucia also spoke. Synodal activities are also being conducted in these dioceses/archdioceses.

Reflecting on the reports which were shared, Bishop Harvey liked the idea of having Synod Ambassadors which was raised by Fr Pascal Degras of Martinique.

Bishop Harvey also highlighted the way in which Lenten activities can play a key role in this time of Synod. He believed that “what we do during Lent is going to be important to this process. Lent is one time of the year when Catholics are open to what Mother Church might say to them. If we can share what we are doing during Lent as a way that enables people to feed off each other, that would be very useful.” —Ottrisha Carter