Wednesday December 7th: Rest
December 7, 2022
Thursday December 8th: A call to serve
December 8, 2022

Towards building community, inclusivity, and dialogue

Q: Archbishop J, how are we going to move the Church towards building community?

Building community is a significant spiritual initiative. It will require all of us in deep dialogue about the areas that are most difficult. It will require conversion of heart. It will require a pivot to deeper discipleship through listening to God and each other. A significant grace will be needed to let go of ways of being and acting that really do not reflect who we are: disciples of Christ on a mission of love.

The way forward is through dialogue. This may sound obvious and straightforward. It is.
Pope Paul VI, in his first encyclical Ecclesiam Suam (His Church), the Holy Father sees dialogue as the new way to be Church. He sees the whole of salvation history as a dialogue between God and His people. He also believes that all the challenges we face today require a deep and honest dialogue.

He proposes concentric circles of dialogue beginning within the Church, then between Christian churches, then with those who believe in God and, ultimately, with all people of goodwill.
Pope Paul VI lays the foundation for a synodal Church, a listening Church. This foundation requires that we all experience dialogue and its invitation to conversion of heart.
For this, we need to learn how to listen, to hold honest and profound conversations. Dialogue is not debate: it requires listening at a very deep and intense level, both to the Holy Spirit and to the person speaking.
Dialogue. It is a holy act since it validates the person in their true dignity as a child of God. Most conflicts escalate when two people are trying to respond rather than trying to listen deeply to each other. Most conflicts can be resolved if both parties pause and listen deeply, repeating what one has heard each time the other speaks. This is so the other person knows that he or she has been listened to.
Our synodal journey

As Church leaders we have listened to you. We have also listened to the 77 synodal syntheses. We have brought these together into one synthesis. The synodal syntheses invite each of us to reflect on the ways in which we have, individually and collectively, contributed to the joys, the hopes, the griefs, and anxieties of the Catholics of our Archdiocese.
At all weekend Masses, our parishes were encouraged to lead a penitential rite inviting the whole community, to seek forgiveness for what we have done and what we have failed to do in welcoming each person into our community; the ways, both personally and communally, in which we have not lived our call to be a synodal Church, in the areas of communion, participation and mission.

We called on the Lord to forgive us and strengthen us. We also asked forgiveness of each other. We, as leaders, ask your forgiveness for all the ways in which we have failed.
God’s call to become a synodal Church requires individual and collective awareness of the ways we fail. Such awareness should lead us to see those habitual behaviour patterns that demand conversion of heart.
Think about your interactions with family, fellow employees, church ministry, or friends. Do they hold up to the high standard of, “What would Jesus do”? We all have a long way to go to become the loving disciples that Jesus called us to be.
To move forward, we need help to discover the destructive patterns in our relationships. For this we need God’s insight to reveal the ways we need healing. We also need an in-depth review of our value system— Authentic Integral Human Development— i.e., the development of every person, and every dimension of the human person.

The synodal call to build community, inclusivity and participation requires of us—lay and ordained—an engagement that facilitates not just intellectual development, but also emotional, spiritual, and physical development, accompanied by the transformation of participants to be their best selves.
If dialogue is the way of being Church, then facilitation is a vital part of this new way.
To this end, our Archdiocese is seeking to build the capacity of a cadre of volunteer facilitators who would assist us in deepening the quality of our dialogue and thus the quality of our communities.
If we can facilitate a better quality of dialogue in the parish, the family, the school, and the workplace, we will make a very dramatic impact on the health of relationships and the spiritual depth of our people. This is an exciting strategy that we pray will bring much fruit at all levels of the Church and society.
A call for facilitators
I am making a call for volunteer facilitators. My dream is to have one in each parish. But we will start with those whom the good Lord calls to this new ministry. If you feel called, please scan the QR code on this page. Remember this is a call that we too must discern as we need facilitators with a certain level of experience.
The description given through the QR code intentionally emphasises the ability of facilitators to be fully present, to listen, to be open, to be non-judgemental, to be able to meet persons wherever they are on their spiritual journey, to be led by God. We believe these traits are critical for building community, inclusivity, and dialogue.

Our expectation is not that each person will have all the characteristics, but rather that we will find persons who are authentic in their desire to become/attain, and to grow into these characteristics.
All our leaders should increasingly emulate these desired behaviours. Just as we pursue formation for all our leaders, we will work with our volunteer facilitators. This formation will include their participation in a self-awareness and self-management programme.
We all need to focus on laying aside the ego and aligning our will to God’s will. All our formation must be grounded in the value system of Authentic Integral Human Development—Spiritual, Human, Intellectual and Pastoral development.
This new ministry in our Church will allow for growth in our skills of dialogue, leading to more meaningful relationships in our families, Church, and society, and to a more emotionally healthy Church and Catholic family.

Key Message:
To build community, inclusivity, and dialogue we need a cadre of facilitators who will assist us in growing the skills of dialogue.
Action Step:
Reflect on the quality of your conversations and ask if it is up to the high standard of a disciple. Please scan the QR Code and discern if God is calling you to the new ministry of volunteer facilitator. You will have all the details when you scan.
Scripture Reading:
Philippians 2:1–4