A Synod is a gathering of church – of bishops, priests, deacons, representatives of church organisations and laity in a particular diocese. Such gatherings usually only take place once every five or seven years.
The purpose of such a gathering is to plot the priorities, spiritually, for the Church in that area for the next few years.
The agenda for such a Synod can be pre-planned, or it can be left open to the Holy Spirit to direct as the people meet and consult together.
The Archdiocese of Durban held their most recent Synod in September 2007, over a period of two and a half days. The topic on the agenda was “Evangelization” with the sub-theme: “Together with Christ we can change the world”. The emphasis was placed on the level of “Personal Evangelization”, and in the time that the 400+ delegates spent together, we looked closely at our own personal levels of evangelization, and whether we could claim to have built our faith on the foundational base of a personal relationship with Jesus. We looked at what such a relationship meant in reality, and we explored the concept that we are not able to evangelize anyone else until we are able to say that we have been evangelized ourselves.
At the end of Synod we resolved that we would, as individuals and as parishes, continue to implement this process of evangelization in our lives so that together with Christ we can change the world.
Every parish in the Archdiocese was then asked to form a Synod Implementation team who were then offered some training in Evangelization. Their first task has been to go back to their parish and set up a Mini-Synod in the parish, inviting all parishioners to come together to explore very similar questions to those posed at the Archdiocesan Synod. This process is almost complete, and we are now moving to the second step in the implementation process. That will be to run a six-week season on Personal Evangelization throughout the Archdiocese, with formation material being provided at four levels: Adult, Youth, Primary school, and Pre-school. Thereafter we will assess what has come out of this process in the parishes, before moving on.