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Missionary Message for the 11th of the month

By Fr. Alfred Maravilla SDB
General Councillor for Missions

       RMG, 11 August 2022 -- The word “synodality” comes from the Greek synodos, which means walking the same path, or journeying together. Synodality is actually a new word for an old reality. The image of the disciples of Emmaus in Luke 24, 18-35 is an example of synodality. The Acts of the Apostles tells us that together with the Holy Spirit the whole community listened and agreed to Paul’s proposals for the Gentile mission. More than a specific theme addressed, a term used or a concept in its documents, the Second Vatican Council used the term of ‘collegiality’ for the method of building the conciliar processes. However, synodality lies at the heart of the work of renewal the Council was encouraging.

       Synodality is not a simple discussion nor like the deliberations in parliaments which end in the vote of the majority. It is not a process of democratization or putting doctrine up for a vote. It is not even a plan, or a programme to be implemented. Instead, it is a style of life, it is being a Church of participation and co-responsibility, involving the whole people of God.

       Synodality implies an attitude of attentive listening with humility, respect, openness, patience, and readiness to listen even to many discordant ideas, so as to discern the promptings of the Holy Spirit, who is the main protagonist, and consequently promoting God’s action in hearts by acting with wisdom and creativity.

       What about synodality in the missions?

       Missionary activity is, above all, proclamation of God’s Kingdom in the person of Jesus Christ. Instead, missionary synodality is a systemic approach to pastoral reality. Sent to proclaim the Gospel, every missionary has to learn to listen attentively and respectfully, as fellow travellers, to the local people, to followers of other religions, to the cries of the poor and marginalized in order to be closer and closer to Jesus and his Gospel and become a Church that goes forth, not closed in on itself.

       Personal conversion will always be needed because we humbly recognize that there are still so many hindrances within us to our efforts to live the missionary synodality: an urgent sense to teach than to listen; a sense of privilege and entitlement; a failure to be transparent and accountable; a slowness to dialogue and lack of animating presence among the young; a propensity to control and to claim the sole right to make decisions; a lack of trust in empowering the laity as mission partners; and a lack of recognition of the presence of the Holy Spirit in cultures and peoples even before our arrival.

       Today the Educative-Pastoral Community (EPC), through the Salesian Educative Pastoral Plan (SEPP), is the centre of communion and sharing in the spirit and mission of Don Bosco. In the EPC we foster a new way of thinking, judging and acting, a new way of confronting problems and a new style of relationships – with young people, Salesians and lay people, in various ways as leaders and collaborators.






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