I reviewed all of my diocese’s synod responses. Three missing elements could point the way forward for the church.

By Fr Louis J. Cameli, 4 September 2022
A view of a community conversation co-hosted at St. Barnabas Parish in the Archdiocese of Chicago in March 2022. Image: Archdiocese of Chicago/Facebook.


As one of the coordinators of our archdiocesan consultation process for the Synod on Synodality in Chicago, I faced the daunting task of going through a foot-high stack of papers that represented the voices of many people. I read and eventually tried to synthesize everything that had been submitted. In the process, I gained a deeper understanding of synodality as well as a sense of the tasks and challenges that face us in the church.

Bishop Robert McElroy recently made a persuasive case in America for the need to carry the work of the synod into the future and to guard against viewing it as a closed-end process. My experience confirms his intuition. We face an immense formational task that involves helping the church to claim its reality as a people on the road together, rooted in the Gospel and inspired to carry that Gospel into the world.

One way to understand synodal formation is to note, as I did in the course of reading our archdiocesan-wide feedback, what seemed to be missing. This via negativa can open up a positive way to understand the tasks and challenges ahead of us. Let me share three significant deficits that I noted and which can, in fact, point us in positive directions.

After considering these three directions for synodal formation—retrieving the true dynamics of synodality, reclaiming our agency in the church and revitalizing a sense of outward mission—I also realized that these very same directions apply in their own way to the eucharistic revival that we hope to foster in our nation. The movement of prayer-encounter-listening-discernment happens when we meet the Lord and each other in Word and Sacrament. That sense of being subjects and active agents of the church is the key to full and active participation in the sacramental mysteries. The awareness of mission in the context of liturgy is the perennial call to integrate worship and life beyond the temple. Synodal formation, then, is eucharistic formation; although it will take more reflection to work out this integrated approach.

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Louis J. Cameli, a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago, is Cardinal Blase J. Cupich’s delegate for formation and mission.

With thanks to America and Fr Louis J Cameli, where this article originally appeared.


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