The First Two Weeks of the Synod

2012 - Sr. Rekha following the Synod on the New Evangelisation

Very dear Sisters,

Greetings from Vatican ! 

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Yes, it has been a wonderful experience for me to be part of this important event in the life of the church. In his homily at the inaugural Eucharistic celebration of the Synod on the New Evangelization (October 7), the Holy Father gave us the “perspective” for the synod by referring to the universal call to holiness and the role and mission of every Christian in the evangelization work (also underlined by Lumen Gentium 39-42). In his meditation during the opening prayer on October 8, Pope Benedict XVI presented confessio (the proclamation of the truth of Jesus Christ) and caritas (love) as the two great pillars of the new evangelization. At the Eucharistic celebration on the occasion of the opening of the Year of Faith and for the Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the beginning of Vatican Council II and the 20th Anniversary of the promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Holy Father underlined again the need for a prophetic witness : “Today, more than ever, evangelizing means witnessing to the new life, transformed by God, and thus showing the path.” We need to look at the reflections on the New Evangelization from these perspectives.

The last two weeks, what we have done so far can be summarized as follows : (1) listening attentively to the reflections on what the new evangelization means and how the church should respond to the various challenges of our times. Out of the 262 synod fathers, 235 made their interventions so far ; 5 minutes for each intervention. All the fraternal delegates and special guests also gave their reflections. Due to lack of time, only few auditors got the opportunity to speak (4 minutes) ; in fact only 3 religious sisters (superior generals), some priests and a couple of lay men and women and got the chance to speak. As I did not get a chance to present my intervention at the general assembly, I have given my reflections in writing to the General Secretary, which will be circulated among the participants and later published in L’Osservatore Romano. I gave two papers : the first from the perspective of Indian women in general and consecrated women in particular ; the second reflection on the new evangelization from the perspective of the Gospel of John. I can send them to you only after they publish them here. My interview with the Radio Vatican was broadcasted two days ago, and I have already received some responses from different lay movements in Italy. Yesterday, I had a sharing with our Sisters and Friends in our community in Rome. It was a difficult task as I had to speak in Italian but I enjoyed the whole experience, especially the question-answer session with them. It was delightful to have Srs Katrin Goris and Therese Maylis.

What I enjoyed the most in the synod is our reflections in small language groups. There are 13 groups using 5 different languages. As you know, the language of the synod is Latin with simultaneous translations in 5 languages. In our English Group, we were 31 (1 cardinal, 22 bishops, 1 priest, 2 sisters, 5 lay people) members. We always had very exciting discussions together ; I had plenty of opportunities to speak and share my concerns.

Our reflections focussed on the following FOUR themes/topics : 

  1. the Nature of the New Evangelization ;
  2. the Context of the Church’s Ministry today ;
  3. Pastoral Responses to the Circumstances of our day ;
  4. Agents/participants of the New Evangelization.

For each topic, we were also given some questions to facilitate the reflections in small groups.

In the light of these reflections, each group prepared around 20 to 40 propositions, which means there are about 400 prepositions. I was asked by one of our Indian cardinals, who is in my group, to prepare one proposition based on the Bible and Asian realities. I am happy to share with you that it was well received and accepted unanimously by our group as one of the propositions of our group. The synod fathers also prepared the first draft of the message of the synod for the universal church. The work of the next week of the synod consists in determining and finalizing the propositions, which will be presented to the Holy Father as a frame of reference for his further reflections, and the final message of the Synod to the Universal church.

I thank each one of you for the support and prayers. I shall write more about my experience at the synod next time. 

United in love and mission,

Rekha M. Chennattu, RA


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