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Fr Eamonn Conway who attended the Synod on Synodality reflects on how the final synthesis report ... 'the fruits of our work' ... is now handed over to the whole Church to reflect on and to continue the journey together

The team supporting the synodal processes in the Diocese of Ferns welcomes the publication of the synthesis report of the first session of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, entitled ‘A Synodal Church in Mission’. The report reflects on the experience, the challenges and the proposals that emerged from the synodal process, which involved listening, dialogue and discernment at different levels of the Church.

The report consists of four main parts with subsections in which the authors categorise the discussions as convergences, matters for consideration or proposals in preparation for the second session of the Synod in 2024.

As we embark on a new chapter of training and formation for lay ministers and people in the Diocese of Ferns, it is worth noting the relevance of the report’s pastoral priorities and suggestions for the continuation of the synodal process.

The report consists of four parts:

· The first part introduces the synodal journey and its theological and ecclesiological foundations. It highlights the role of the Holy Spirit, the Word of God, the sensus fidei (the sense of the faithful) and the magisterium in guiding the Church towards a synodal style of being and acting. It also acknowledges the diversity and richness of the local Churches, as well as the need for communion and collegiality among them.

· The second part presents the main challenges that the Church faces in today’s world, such as secularization, relativism, individualism, polarization, violence, poverty, migration and ecological crisis. It also identifies some signs of hope and grace, such as the thirst for spirituality, the witness of martyrs, the commitment to justice and peace, and the ecumenical and interreligious dialogue.

· The third part outlines some pastoral priorities and proposals that emerged from the synodal consultations. They include: fostering a culture of encounter and dialogue; promoting a missionary conversion and a new evangelization; enhancing the participation and co-responsibility of all the baptized; valuing the gifts and charisms of women and young people; accompanying families and couples in their joys and difficulties; caring for our common home and promoting integral ecology; strengthening the formation and accompaniment of ministers and pastoral agents; revising some aspects of canon law and liturgy to reflect a synodal spirit.

· The fourth part concludes with some suggestions for the continuation of the synodal process. It invites all the members of the Church to deepen their personal and communal conversion to Christ, to listen attentively to the voice of the Spirit, to discern together the will of God, and to act boldly in mission. It also asks for a special attention to those who are marginalized or wounded by life or by the Church. It expresses gratitude to Pope Francis for his leadership and guidance, and entrusts the synodal journey to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church.

To quote the final sentences of the report: ‘We are all invited to welcome the small seed that this Synthesis Report represents. Adsumus Sancte Spiritus!’ This Latin phrase, meaning ‘We stand before You, Holy Spirit’, is the beginning of a prayer that has been historically used at Councils, Synods and other Church gatherings for hundreds of years, and is attributed to Saint Isidore of Seville (c. 560 - 636). This beautiful prayer acknowledges the work of the Holy Spirit in every place and time, in the communion of the Father and the Son, forever and ever. Amen.

The full report can be accessed at:


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