Perth parishes unite for Synodality; deadline extended

24 Feb 2022

By The Record

Attadale Parish Priest, Fr Don Kettle, centre back, with parish representatives from Applecross, Attadale, East Fremantle, Myaree and Palyma, during meetings to develop a submission to the Synod of Bishops. Photo: Supplied.

Five Parishes from across the Archdiocese of Perth have developed a joint response for the Synod on Synodality in Rome.

The parishes, which include Applecross, Attadale, East Fremantle, Myaree, and Palmyra have this week highlighted how their parishes are embracing Synodality.

Co-ordinator Dr Graham Mahony said the Synod is a boundless beginning of Synodality for the Archdiocese.

“It is creating a progressive, practical model and pathway enabling our parishes and parishioners to journey together going forward on the pathway that God calls the Church to undertake for the third millennium, in our Archdiocese and the universal Church,” Dr Mahony explained.

“We recognised the practical challenges facing the Church in multicultural Australia by providing input from parishioners for our Plenary Council which is due to reconvene in July 2022.” 

Pope Francis leads a meeting with representatives of bishops’ conferences from around the world at the Vatican 9 October 2021. The meeting came as the Vatican launched the process that will lead up to the assembly of the world Synod of Bishops in 2023. Photo: CNS photo/Paul Haring.

Dr Mahony continued by explaining that the Church is challenged by an ageing population of clerics and laity with only some 10 to 12 per cent of the 5.4 million Catholic population in Australia currently actively practicing.

“The practical step of parishes coming together within a Synodality framework and supporting each other, enables the establishment of a constructive framework to address the challenges to move forward in a progressive manner with clergy and parishioners creating new directions for communion, participation, and mission, hopefully visible and engaging for the wider Catholic population not currently participating,” Dr Mahony explained.

“A synodal approach, involving multiple parishes, provides the basis for ongoing continuous improvement and feedback from the outcomes of the Plenary Council, and collectively working with similar – minded parishes provides a meaningful and powerful expression of Catholicism throughout our local and regional communities.”   

Deadline extended for local Synod of Bishops submissions

At the request of dioceses, the period for local submissions for the global Synod of Bishops process has been extended by two weeks, with responses now being received until 13 March.

Hundreds of submissions from across the country have been made through the online Synod of Bishops portal, along with responses that have also been sent directly to dioceses.

Director of the National Centre for Pastoral Research and national coordinator for the Synod of Bishops process, Trudy Dantis, said the new deadline will allow for richer and more diverse submissions.

“When speaking with our diocesan contacts, it became clear that the tight timeline would not allow enough time for some people to adequately pray with, discern and respond to the Synod questions,” Ms Dantis said.

“The ongoing effects of COVID-19, the summer holidays in this part of the world and the busyness of the start of the school year were all factors we heard were affecting people’s ability to engage as they hoped.”

At a meeting last week, diocesan Synod of Bishops coordinators suggested the extra two weeks could allow parishes and dioceses to reach out to people who are not regular Mass attenders and engage with Catholic schools and other Church communities.

Dr Dantis said while any timeline obviously means some people might miss out on participating, the two-week extension until March 13 will be the final change.

Pope Francis leads a meeting with representatives of bishops’ conferences from around the world at the Vatican 9 October 2021. The meeting came as the Vatican launches the process that will lead up to the assembly of the world Synod of Bishops in 2023. Pictured at the dais are Sister Nathalie Becquart, undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops; Bishop Luis Marín de San Martín, undersecretary of the synod; and Maltese Cardinal Mario Grech, secretary-general of the synod. Photo: CNS photo/Paul Haring.

Despite the extended period for local submissions, other milestones for the local and national process will still be met.

“The collation of responses within each diocese has already begun, which will allow the National Centre for Pastoral Research to keep up with the arrival of submissions right up until March 13,” Dr Dantis said.

“We will still be able to provide reports for all dioceses, eparchies and ordinariates based on the current timeline, after which time dioceses will each hold a gathering to celebrate and conclude the local consultation stage.”

Based on diocesan reports, the National Centre for Pastoral Research will prepare a national synthesis that will be finalised during three sessions with the bishops in May and June.

The Church in Australia will provide its consolidated report to the Holy See in August.

For information and to access resources go to https://www.catholic.org.au/synodalchurch