Synodal Unity Mass Highlights Broad Participation Across Archdiocese

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Thanking God “for the participation of this archdiocese in the whole process of Synodality, which Pope Francis has asked the entire Church to engage in,” Cardinal Dolan offered the Synodal Unity Mass of Thanksgiving May 15 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

“Synodality,” the cardinal explained in his homily at the 10:15 a.m. liturgy, involves “examining our consciences to make sure that now, in the Church, we show the same qualities that shone in those Acts of the Apostles.”

One of the bonuses of “this radiant Easter Season,” the cardinal had earlier shared, “would be our Bible readings at Mass from that Book of the New Testament called the Acts of the Apostles,” written by St. Luke the Evangelist, himself the inspired author of one of the four Gospels.

“These Acts of the Apostles tell us about the earliest days and years of the Church and presents us clearly, if you read it carefully, with the basic features of the Church that Jesus gave us.”

Cardinal Dolan, along with diocesan bishops across the universal Church, opened the Archdiocese of New York’s diocesan phase of a synod Oct. 17, beginning a process of “preparation and prayer,” at the request of Pope Francis, in anticipation of the Synod of Bishops in Rome in October 2023. A week earlier, Pope Francis formally opened the process leading up to the assembly of the Synod of Bishops in 2023. 

The diocesan phase has focused on listening to and consulting the people of God. The synod’s theme is “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, Mission.”

During Lent, more than 2,000 people representing the 12 deaneries of the archdiocese gathered in person with fellow parishioners to pray and provide Synodal input at the Synod listening sessions. Those who were not able to attend the sessions in the respective deaneries had an opportunity to participate in the bilingual online listening session Wednesday, May 4 via Zoom.

“For the last four months or so, led by many of those who are here at Mass with us this morning, this archdiocese has engaged in this process of Synodality,” said the cardinal in his homily. “And as he’s asked, we’re going to let the Successor of St. Peter,” the pope, “know the results.”

“And I sure appreciate you all helping us out,” the cardinal told the congregation. “I sure appreciate the fact that today we still have the same qualities as the Church in the Acts of the Apostles.”

The Prayer of the Faithful included several intentions for the Synod, among them: for “...the people of God in the Archdiocese of New York, that the celebration of the Synodal process may help us to discern God’s will and boldly carry it out,” “...that all decisions made on this Synodal path may arise from a consensus that flows from our common obedience to the Holy Spirit” and for “our Church that celebrates.”

The cardinal added another intention: “Nor can we forget those who are suffering from the violence in Buffalo and Milwaukee and Ukraine.”

The Synod’s local leadership includes Elizabeth Guevara de Gonzalez, director of the archdiocesan Office of Adult Faith Formation, and Msgr. Joseph LaMorte, vicar general and moderator of the curia for the archdiocese. 

Speaking with CNY after the Mass, Ms. de Gonzalez said she is excited “about where we are as an archdiocese, and how our Church can continue to expand on its mission, and be more fruitful in its mission for the good and holiness of the people of God.”

She described the Mass on the “joyful day” as “a beautiful way to culminate where we are in the process.” 

“We’re at a high point,” Ms. de Gonzalez said. “We’ve come together, we’ve shared, we’ve had these listening sessions.”

Now, the discernment process takes the form of a review of everything that has been shared, she said. “The report itself that we’re putting together will be shared with everyone before the end of the summer.”

The sheer volume of responses of the lay faithful is a hopeful sign of the level of engagement, Ms. de Gonzalez continued. “We had more than 4,000 people coming through,” she said, noting that some parishes had additional sessions, as did Catholic schools and parish religious education programs. ArchCare and archdiocesan Catholic Charities were also involved, she added.

“Having all these different parts of who we are as a Church to be part of this and to really take hold of it and say, this is a moment in time for us, too. We’re part of our Church.”

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