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Charting a way forward with the Synod

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Archbishop’s Column

Archbishop Leonard P. Blair

As archbishop of Hartford, I am in a position to get an overview of the life of our local Church in all its many aspects, whether it be worship, charity, education or stewardship. We do not always do a good enough job of “letting our light shine,” as Jesus says, not for vainglory, but to give glory to our Father in heaven. This is all the more important in a world that is increasingly skeptical of religion. We are to be Christ’s hands, feet and voice in the face of the great spiritual, moral and material poverties of our time.

Today, we have to ask: What are we doing well? What are we not doing so well? What are we not doing that we should be doing?

The ultimate criterion of our answers has to be: Are we drawing people to Christ and to shared communion with us as Catholic believers?

I am reminded of the words of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, who speaks of “a missionary option, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures, can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than her self-preservation.”

Today, in the midst of a culture that is generally less inclined to belong to a church or to religious practice, not to mention the grave challenges posed by sexual abuse, we, as an archdiocesan family of faith, need to have a very serious and focused discussion on where we are and where we are headed.

Nov. 28, 2018, marks the 175th anniversary of our archdiocese.

We can look back with admiration and gratitude to the clergy, religious and laity who have gone before us and from whom we have inherited our parishes, churches, schools and charitable institutions.

The pastoral plan of 2017 was meant to reconfigure the parochial structures in keeping with the realities of today. And the central service offices and agencies of the archdiocese are also being revamped along the same lines. But structures and agencies are only tools at the service of what must be a profoundly spiritual and mission-oriented understanding of who we are and what we are called to do as Christ’s disciples.

What are our goals and how can we best accomplish with God’s help the mission entrusted to us now and in the immediate future?

How can we reinvigorate Catholic faith and practice in our parishes and schools, and in lifelong faith formation? How can we bolster the quality of liturgy and preaching and the work of our charitable outreach and institutions?

These are vital questions for each and every one of us, and that is why, on June 29, 2017, I convoked a synod to be prepared for now, and which will be celebrated in 2020.
It will be the third synod in our 175-year history.

In Church law, a synod is an assembly called by the diocesan bishop to assist in charting a way forward for the life and mission of the local Church.

It is my hope and prayer that the synod will be able to recommend to me priorities and practical steps to promote the life and mission of our archdiocese. The chosen theme says it all: Grow as a Disciple of Jesus and Go Make Disciples!

Please join me in praying for the success of this synod!

Synod Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ,
In the Gospel we hear the voice of the Father
telling us to listen to you.

It is your voice that we heed.
It is your way that we follow.
It is your spirit who leads us into all the truth.

Look kindly upon your church in the Archdiocese of Hartford
and upon the work of our archdiocesan synod.

We pray that through the synod
our souls may be stirred and our hearts set on fire
in order to bring new energy and zeal to the mission of our local Church.

May the synod inspire us to missionary discipleship,
so that filled with the faith and boldness of the apostles and first Christians,
we may draw others to you and to your body and bride, the Church.

At Pentecost, Mary, your mother, joined the apostles
in imploring the gift of the Holy Spirit.
By her prayers and those of her spouse, St. Joseph, our patron,
may the same Holy Spirit inspire and direct us and the work of our synod.

Through you, Lord Jesus, we give glory to the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Amen!