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***Synod Newsletter – November Edition***

Here is the link to read the latest November Synod Newsletter from Fr Paul Keys F218D25EC44904892540EF23F30FEDED


Final preparations have been taking place for the upcoming XVI General Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops which will take place from 4th – 29th October 2023 in Rome. This all started in 2021 when all parishes, including our parish were invited to hold meetings to listen to each other about Church and our experiences of Communion, Participation and Mission.

In our case these were led by Fr Francis Straw. These reports were first assembled by our diocese, then nationally and then a synopsis was made by each continent - a truly Universal Church. This gathering in Rome to consider these reports will not be just made up of Bishops, but also of lay women and men, clergy and religious. An important part of these preparations has been formed by a document called the ‘Instrumentum Laboris’. This can be accessed from the Vatican’s website ( or by clicking on: Documents ( Although the meeting itself is made up of a relatively small number of people, we are all now being called

to JOIN IN… through PRAYER. ‘Every baptised person and every particular Church’ (Cardinal Grech – General Secretary of the Synod) is called to take part. 

This Sunday our Bidding Prayers are for the Synod and we will pray every weekend throughout the meeting. To read the latest Synod update from the diocese, please click the link here:


The Synod and the Continental Stage.

Jacintha writes:   I have been privileged this last year to have been involved in many discussions on the Synod. From a listening course, a conference in Durham, attendance at national forums and this week an attendance at an international forum with women from all over the world, their words being expertly translated into English, I have learned that many lay people believe that they have “done the Synod”, but the Synodal process has only just begun. At the Durham Conference Julian Paparella, gave the metaphor of the Road to Emmaus to outline the principles of the Synod, we must listen, interpret, choose, encounter, dialogue and find commonality between peoples everywhere, particularly those on the margins. The Synod is about journeying together and about being changed by the other. To this end the Continental stage of the Synod takes the process even further. Entitled “Enlarge the Space of your Tent”, the document focuses on greater inclusion and selected members from bishops’ conferences from all over the world will meet in Prague in February. A few lay people have been invited, and our national delegate is Amy Cameron of the NBCW. The document that will be discussed is HERE. Or click the picture link and it will open (hopefully), and if you have any questions pertaining to it, you can forward them to me: this and I will forward them to Amy. 

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‘Synodality Series’

Dr Caroline Farey is offering two further talks on synodality. In person or join the day online via zoom.  The talks will take place at St Peter’s Catholic Church, Crownhill, Plymouth, PL5 3AX For those attending the day there will be 10.30am Refreshments and 12.15pm Lunch break. (Bring your own lunch). There is also Mass at 9.30am.  To request a zoom link please email:

Sat 11 February 2023: 11.00am: Sharing the priesthood of Christ.  

1.15pm:  Should women share in the hierarchy?


A conversation about safeguarding online event

Looking forward both nationally and locally there is a great deal of work undertaken both in the voluntary and statutory sector to prevent abuse from occurring, and to work with and support those who have been hurt in the past. We as a Diocese are playing our part in that not only within the Church, but in wider society.

Being aware that many of you may have questions around how safe my church is, what are the implications arising from the IICSA report, and what about safeguarding and the synodal journey, we have decided to host an online event which will be led by Robert Brown, the Senior Safeguarding Professional employed by the Diocese. The event will take place on Monday 9th January between 6:00pm and 7:30pm. If you wish to attend then please sign up via Eventbrite: so that we can send the Zoom meeting details to you. This will also provide you the opportunity to highlight any questions you would like to be answered at the meeting.

Should you have any questions or concerns in the interim then please contact the Safeguarding Office on 01364 645430 or e-mail

Listening Workshop. Saturday 21st January 2023 at Our Lady’s Marnhull After Mass

In his homily to announce the Synod, Pope Francis said, "Let us ask: In the church, are we good at listening? How good is the hearing of our heart?

You are invited to attend a workshop designed to help us to learn to listen with the ears of the heart, just as Pope Francis suggests.

You will learn the vital difference between listening in order to respond and listening in order to react.

You will learn about yourself, how you may be perceived and how to speak the truth in love, without conflict.

This is a stimulating workshop suitable for anyone who wants to build better relationships through more effective communication, and perfect the art of listening.

Proverbs 18:13 “He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him.”

November:  As part of our on-going Synodal journey, the Office for Evangelisation and Catechesis invites you to the following talks:

Saturday 26th November:  11.00am The work of the Holy Spirit in the Church Today;  1.30pm Deaconesses in the Catholic Church

The talks will take place at St Peter’s Catholic Church, Crownhill, Plymouth, PL5 3AX.  For those attending the day there will be 10.30am Refreshments and 12.15pm Lunch break.  There is also Mass at 9.30am for those who wish.  To request a Zoom link please

SYNOD - Update 28 August 2022

Synodal Pathway – an update from Canon John Deeny and Deborah Fisher:

Having considered carefully the Synthesis, the Bishops of England and Wales have now offered their initial reflections in the light of our shared faith in Christ and our shared belonging to his Church.

The Bishops reflected that in the synod responses, among the tensions and tragedies, they have also found so many signs of hope. They give witness that the needs of people today elicit compassionate responses of remarkable generosity. The Church plays her part by putting the Gospel into practical, loving action towards the poorest and the weakest. It is clear that nothing genuinely human –whether it be a cause of rejoicing or sadness –fails to echo in our hearts as the People of God, united in Christ and led by the Holy Spirit in our journey to the Kingdom of the Father.

You can find the full text of the synthesis and reflection here

It can be easy to forget we are on a global journey but there is a wonderful website where you can see how other countries are walking together on their synodal journey

There are some great examples of how other parts of the Church are engaging including resources for young people .You can find out more about the meaning of Sensus Fidei, listen to a synodal song from Africa or a hymn from the Archdiocese of Luxembourg; among many other things. Really inspiring!

We thank all who have participated so far in the Synodal Process and ask for continued prayers as we journey together towards being a Synodal Church in today’s world, expressing her nature as the People of God journeying together and gathering in assembly, summoned by the Lord Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Gospel that brings life and human flourishing to all who hear and respond to it.


Synod - The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales have released a statement titled Seeking Our Hearts’ Desire offering their initial reflections on the National Synthesis document.  This in turn was the fruit of a discernment process in which the National Synthesis Team reflected on hundreds of pages of Synod reports received from the dioceses of England and Wales as well as Catholic organisations and individuals.   The Bishop’s document can be viewed as an attachment to the parish newsletter email or online here:      See also the Bishops' Reflections on the National Synod

Some items from the latest newsletter of the Plymouth Diocese Synod coordinators:

What next in our Diocese? The synodal journey continues in our Diocese with the materials we sent out with our diocesan synthesis and the questions raised by Bishop Mark which can be found on our website:

Cardinal Nichols reflected that accompaniment is a challenge for every parish He invites us to consider w ho are those who feel that they do not belong, or fear they may not be made welcome?

“It is a challenge for every organisation to look at itself and ask how easy is it for those who are different to join in our activities It is a question for each one of us do we try to be close to those we meet regularly, with whom we might work or live, simply making it clear that no matter what happens we will not turn away, not in judgement, nor in disdain, nor in fear?”

Let’s continue to listen to the Holy Spirit and to each other as we reflect on how we accompany each other in the coming months and years. We will be sending out further resources later this year.

In his homily on 29th June, (at the Mass at which our former Bishop received the Pallium as Metropolitan Archbishop of Cardiff), Pope Francis reflected on the synodal journey:

“The Synod that we are now celebrating calls us to become a Church that gets up, one that is not turned in on itself, but capable of pressing forward, leaving behind its own prisons and setting out to meet the world, with the courage to open doors.”

From the Conclusion of the National Synthesis of the Synodal Process in England and Wales. You can access the whole document below:

“The journey calls us out into the deep, into a more active faith stirred by an attentive listening to the Spirit in and through all of the baptised. It asks us to hear and respond without waiting for this or that change or new structure, confident that, in awakening to our co-responsibility, the reforms will follow—indeed, will become the reform itself.

This is the new consciousness that the Spirit has awoken in the People of God in these islands which, if embraced, will lead to the growth in holiness both here and across the world.”

Please speak to Fr. Francis if you need a printed copy.

Fr. Jon Bielawski writes: “One of the clear indications that has come through the early findings of our recent engagement in the Synodal process is the laity request to better know the teachings of the Church and to deepen their faith. In order to respond to this encouraging sign, we are launching a straightforward and simple initiative entitled “Dipping into the Catechism”. (Click to see). Each week, a paragraph of the Catechism accompanied by a straightforward explanation of its meaning will be made available.”

These will be circulated with the emailed edition of the newsletter. Anyone who needs a printed copy is asked to speak to Fr. Francis.

SYNOD - update

The listening phase of our diocesan Synodal Journey has now drawn to a close and we have prepared a synthesis which has been sent through to the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW) for the next phase of discernment and listening. We would like to thank all those who have participated in or facilitated meetings or sent through individual feedback. The final diocesan synthesis, a foreword by Bishop Mark and appendices are now on the Diocese of Plymouth website We will send some printed copies to parishes in May. The wealth of contributions sent through will continue to be reviewed and shared in the coming months as we reflect in more detail on all the themes raised. Thank you for all your support! Canon John Deeny and Deborah Fisher, Diocesan Co-contacts


The March Newsletter of the coordinators of the Synodal Process in the Diocese is now available as an attachment to all who receive the parish newsletter by email.  Please ask Fr. Francis if you would like a copy.  Or download it here.  Over 700 different contributions have been received and the co-contacts describe the emerging themes in this way:

“A whole host of issues have been discussed – people’s views on the structures of the Church, how we walk together as a People of God; how we encounter others and reach out; how we communicate; how we practice our faith; the role of Priests and Laity; the importance of the youth; inclusion and diversity; tradition and modernity; gender issues; LGBTQ+; safeguarding and abuse; leadership and Mission. The listening journey has highlighted many different points of view on all these issues but there has been an almost universal welcome for the process of Synodality and a hope that we can continue to walk together, listening to each other and the Holy Spirit and engaging in dialogue to strengthen the Mission of the Church.

Tony and Mary Moore, together with Deacons Mike and James, represented our parish at the meeting organised by the Diocese in Poole on Saturday 26th February.  Tony has kindly written an account of the day.  This is attached to the newsletter email and is available on the Parish website.  Find the account here.

More information about what has happened so far is available on our Synodal Update which is attached to the newsletter email. There is also a link Here.

Synod Meeting 12th February

It was gratifying to see about twenty people attend the Parish meeting to prepare our response to the Synod process on Saturday 12th February.  We began by thinking about St. Luke’s Gospel Chapter 8 verses 11 – 18 and then said the synod prayer.  Fr. Francis asked us to think for a few minutes about what we do well in the parish and what we would like to do even better.

Very much appreciation was voiced for the efforts of everyone to be a united, friendly, welcoming community with beautiful, well-kept churches and a notable enthusiasm for learning more about our faith and sharing it with others.  We also came up with many ideas of things we’d like to do even better.  In no particular order, they were:

• Drawing in the people on the margins.  One way of encouraging this would be to restrict attendance at parish events to those who bring a ‘stranger’ with them.

• Attending funerals of parishioners we don’t know, as well as baptisms and other sacramental initiation

• Being ready to talk to people, just a friendly word, and ready to ‘give a reason for the hope we have’

• Create opportunities for people to come into church when they are upset

• Taking more seriously Jesus’ command to spread the Gospel; accept that it’s not an optional extra to our Christian life.

• Building on our neighbourliness

• Develop St. Vincent de Paul links, reaching out to those who are alone, in care homes, in prison

• Provide facilities in Gillingham for meetings and social events

• Encourage more people to stay for coffee after the 0930 Sunday Mass in Marnhull

• Drawing all the parishioners more into a sense of being a community

•Involving the young people, perhaps by having a young peoples’ choir in Gillingham

• “To live is to change; to be perfect is to have changed often.”  We must guard against complacency.

• Help for young Mums while their children are being prepared for the sacraments

• Help newcomers to have a sense of belonging in our church.  

  • Engage in life-long formation

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