How synodality is like riding a bike

13 May 2024
Fr Agbonkhianmeghe E Orabator SJ, Dean of Santa Clara University’s Jesuit School of Theology in Silicon Valley. Image: Supplied


Remember when you started riding a bike? Some initial instruction, wobbly attempts, perhaps a fall or two, some improvement, more instruction and then off you went. That was my experience with synodality. No skinned knees but considerable frustration. Conversation in the Spirit requires discipline. Lifeline trainers tell us that training teachers, clergy and nurses in the skill of reflective listening is hard, they are too accustomed to giving advice. The same is true when participating in spiritual conversation, no, no, no—you are not there to explain, the experience of the person talking is as valid as yours.

Contributing to synodal discussions or submissions is hard work but very rewarding. The richness of experience shared gives you immediate growth in your spirituality, you learn new approaches and skills. In the end, there is hope that the submissions will bring changes to an institution which has so much to offer but too often undermines its own work.

At any stage of learning, some input from experts will improve skills and knowledge. No matter where you are on the synodal journey, the Forum Becoming synodal people: forming clergy and laity on Sunday evening 26 May will enrich your understanding. Fr Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orabator SJ will be the lead speaker. A convert to Christianity as a teenager, Fr Orabator brings a freshness to his scholarship. He was born in Nigeria and is now Dean of Santa Clara University’s Jesuit School of Theology in Silicon Valley.

This is what Fr Orabator, a voting member of the Synod on Synodality has to say about the three-year Synod on Synodality, which concludes in October 2024: “This process is not meant to end with the synod; it opens up a path to a new way of being Church, that is, a listening Church. In this sense, synodality is not just an event; it is a path to be walked, a journey to be undertaken as a community. We make the path by walking, says an African proverb. The outcome is not predetermined.” [Illuminate, Santa Clara University]

MC for the evening will be broadcaster Geraldine Doogue AO, who is also covering the Synod on Synodality on her Plenary Matters podcast. She will be joined by panellists, Dr Sandie Cornish and Fr Paul Monkerud. Sandie was a theological advisor for the Australian Catholic Church’s Fifth Plenary Council and a facilitator at the Synod on Synodality. Fr Paul is Episcopal Vicar of the Western Region of the Archdiocese of Sydney and former chair of the Ongoing Formation of Clergy Committee.

Catalyst for Renewal and Our Lady of the Way Parish, North Sydney, would be delighted to see you at Fr Orabator’s public lecture “Becoming synodal people: forming clergy and laity” on Sunday 26 May 2024 from 7.15pm to 8.45pm at the Ron Dyer Centre, 42 Ridge St North Sydney. All are welcome – No Booking required – Entry by Donation.

If you are unable to be there in person we invite you to join us via livestream:

Download the flyer detailing Fr Orabator’s public events, including in Melbourne, Brisbane and a webinar


Read Daily
* indicates required