Synod 2021-23 Inauguration Mass in the Archdiocese of Bombay
On 17th October, Cardinal Oswald Gracias inaugurated the Diocesan Phase of the Synod on Synodality with a solemn Inaugural Eucharist in the Cathedral of the Holy Name. This Inaugural Eucharist included at the beginning of the Eucharist a procession of a Marian icon being brought to the altar and a procession of the celebrant to the Baptismal font where the Litany of Saints was prayed helping us to be grounded in our baptismal roots. In the homily, the Cardinal reflected on the vision of Pope Francis of the Synodal process and also explained in brief of how at each ecclesial level, the Federation of Asian Bishop’s Conferences (FABC), the Diocese and the Parish would this synodal process see its roots. The renewal of baptismal promises and the prayer of the Faithful in local languages related to our faith in a cultural context meaningfully and each participant after the final blessing was given a copy prepared by Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI) titled ‘For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission’ which contains the Vademecum manual that is the official handbook as a practical support to the first phase (October 2021- April 2022) in Dioceses and Bishop’s Conferences.
Three of our seminarians who represented the Archdiocesan Seminary, along with me, summarize their experience as under:
“What I liked about the Homily of His Eminence Cardinal Oswald Gracias is that each one of us is part of this Synodal Process. A synod means walking together. Three essential elements in the synod are meeting one another, listening to each other and discerning what the Holy Spirit is trying to tell us. Throughout his homily he reflected on the vision of Pope Francis who said that the Church has to walk the path of Synodality by going back to the practices of the Early Church, leaving no one behind; in listening to those who are living in peripheries such as sick, and even those who have left the church by emphasizing what Vatican II calls us to be the ‘one people of God’ because of our baptism. The Synodal Process calls each of us to service including the hierarchical structure in the church. The Synodal Process means to reform the Church by discerning what really ails the Church, and in discovering that by listening to each other even those who have left and planning to leave the Church, we realize all have a story to tell. The Cardinal then addressed the troubles the Church is witnessing today, clericalism because we are a clergy dominated church, discrimination against women where they are not given the rightful place in the Church, lack of protection of the minors in the Church, oppression of dalits in the Church, rejection of migrants, inadequate concerns for climate change, lack of importance to youth has affected the Church which are all counter kingdom values. He concluded the homily by restating the words of Pope Francis who said that though this process may make us uncomfortable, the Church must become a listening Church, a serving and humble Church where all belong and all go in mission in accompaniment with our Lord and this is our responsibility.”
-Br. Jordan Govind, III Year Theology
“Fix your eyes on things that are above… Col 3:2.
It was a faith-filled experience for me to witness such a great event in the church. The Archdiocese of Bombay inaugurated the synod following the words of Pope Francis, and it was very pleasant to see the cathedral filled not just with clergymen but with the lay faithful of the diocese, consisting of rich and poor, men and women and children and youth. The meaning of Synodality was well explained by the Cardinal. He then reflected on the words of Pope Francis to the people, saying let us meet each other, listen to one another and walk together to fulfill the mission of the Church. A great number of those who attended the Eucharist in their cultural and professional attire reminded me that we are all United in Christ even though from different cultures and context.
The inauguration of the Synod made me reflect on the Words of St Paul “Fix your eyes on things that are above.” Yes I hope and pray that the vision of our Holy Father Pope Francis, comes true as the Church journeys in reaching to the periphery in giving Christ to all by connecting in Love and living together with care.”
-Br. David Sagaya Raj S, II Year Theology
“Being witness to the opening of the synod was indeed a surreal experience. The novelty was not merely in venturing outdoors amidst the challenging times of the pandemic, but experiencing a sense of togetherness with the Church at large, with whom we are called to journey along - the central theme of this synod 2021-23.
It was indeed fascinating to experience this oneness not only with the Catholics of the city but also the Catholics all across the globe, who had, together, set aside the 17th of October, 2021 to inaugurate the synod - a truly global event. The sense of being one with the Mystical Body of Christ - the Church was indeed heightened in the Eucharistic celebration knowing the one purpose for which we had gathered. Representing all seminarians on behalf of the Archdiocesan Seminary in view of collaborating in this synod on 'communion, participation and mission together will always be a memory I will cherish.”
-Br. Kenneth Pinto, I Year Theology
Br. Dylan D’souza
III Year Theology