Saint Veronica Parish Synod on Synodality

Parish Feedback

The feedback received is organized into two different categories. Feedback pertaining to the Archdiocesen & Vatican Level and feedback pertaining directly to St. Veronica Parish Life. The committee felt it important to highlight items pertaining to parish life because addressing this feedback directly will be the focus of discussions, planning and ministry life in the future.

Participants were asked to respond to a specific set of questions provided by the Synod Facilitators and taken from the Vademecum and Accompanying Documentation for the Synod on Synodality. Listed below is not every response to each question, but overarching ideas and experiences presented by the Holy Spirit through our parishioners.

St. Veronica Parish celebrates sacraments and masses in two locations, St. Margaret Church on Winn Street and St. Malachy Church on Bedford Street in Burlington, MA. There are approximately 2641 registered households and 478 students registered for faith formation classes last year. The lack of interest in participating in the Synod is important note. Although some of this could be attributed to a lack of understanding regarding what a Synod on Synodality is, and the relative speed and timing with which the program was administered, this level of participation says something about the parishioner’s relative connectedness to movements and efforts within the local, national, and global church.

It is very important to mention that each and every participant who did attend a session was engaged, involved, passionate and in many cases emotional when sharing their experiences and convictions.

OVERVIEW

Three General Sessions Offered Initially:                                                                  Sunday, May 15, 3:00pm-5:00pm                                                                            Wednesday, May 18, 6:45pm-8:45pm                                                                          Saturday, June 4, 10:00am – 12:00pm

Outreach                                                                                                                      Bulletin Announcements April 17 through July 3.                                                          Postcards In the pews beginning weekend of May 7-8                                                 Invitation Speech Given by Synod Committee Member at all Masses May 7-8                  Video Invitation Posted online May 19  *  Emailed to Distribution list May 15, June 2, July 6   Email Campaign (Distribution List of 1,524 Parishioners)                                                    May  15th with Sign Up & Video Invitation  *  June 2 with Sign Up & Video Invitation                  July 6 with Online Questionnaire

Outreach Efforts to Voices Less Heard                                                                    Invitation to Boston Tamil Catholics                                                                                Meeting with Parents of LGBTQ+ children                                                                           Youth Synod Meeting

 

STRUCTURE OF IN-PERSON MEETING 

1. Welcome                                                                                                                          2. Explanation of General Synod                                                                                            3. Explanation of Synod on Synodality                                                                                    4. Ground Rules for Listening & Sharing                                                                                  5. Respectful Communication Instructions                                                                               6. Meditation on Meaning of Logo Image                                                                                  7. Prayer for Synod Together                                                                                                  8. Discussion of Questions (Full list of Questions are at the end of this report)                            9. Closing Prayer of Gratitude

STRUCTURE OF ONLINE QUESTIONAIRE                                          Questions #1, #8 & #10 (See Attached)

PARTICIPATION                                                                                                   In-Person Participation:  64                                                                                                  Online Questionnaire Participation: 8

 

FEEDBACK

Joys of Faith Life                                                                      

Diocesan & Vatican Level                                                                                      There was a great sense of nostalgia amongst parishioners when speaking about their faith life. Especially among parishioners that grew up in the faith. A sense that being part of Catholic Church faith community brings warmth and faith provides strength. Many heartwarming memories shared of growing up in the faith. A real positive feeling around having attended masses, received sacraments, and celebrated life with the Catholic Church. Also expressed great joy in having their children receive sacraments in the Church.

Parish Level                                                                                                          Great joy of the weekly Family Mass celebrated in the lower church at St. Margaret mentioned more times by more parishioners than any other reference made in the entire Synod experience.

 

Inconsistent Messaging - Tone of Confusion & Frustration

Parish, Diocesan & Vatican Level                                                                          A sentiment expressed almost universally, by both more traditionally minded parishioners and those with a more liberal perspective of Catholicism, is a feeling of confusion and/or frustration caused by inconsistent, ambiguous, and at times contradictory messaging coming from clergy, bishops, cardinals and the Holy See. Catholics from all viewpoints and perspectives are struggling, frustrated and in many cases angry.  It is very difficult for Catholics today to know what makes a Catholic, a Catholic. Are there things one must do, or NOT do, to be able to identify as a member of the Catholic faith community?

“The Church needs to speak out more about what Catholics believe.”

 “Catholicism is becoming too watered down.”

“The Church doesn’t clearly address important topics in today’s world.”

“The Church is not doing enough to welcome the marginalized.”

               

Lack of Trust - Lack of Responsiveness

Parish, Diocesan & Vatican Level                                                                Parishioners feel unheard. Reached out to Archdiocese several times and never received a response. Reached out to Cardinal O’Malley and never received a response. An overall impression that voices are not heard, leadership already has answers. Believe that there is a prejudice to even this Synod process.

“I’m participating today but I do not have confidence that we will be heard.”

               

Loss of Community - Pandemic

Diocesan & Vatican Level                                                                                        There is an overall feeling of a loss of community within the Catholic Church. This was magnified and accelerated by the COVID-19 Pandemic. The closing of churches, cancelling of masses, shuttering of Ministries and mandatory mask wearing left parishioners alone and divided. Parishioners don’t feel like they belong to a cohesive group. Church closings exacerbated this. People in need of connection.

“There needs to be a way to show people how to connect.”

“I feel that we are DISconnected.”

“The last couple of years created a lot of isolation and I know for myself feeling more withdrawn in my community.”

“We need to think of issues of connectedness, how we communicate that we are all part of the Body of Christ. Church needs us and we need Church.”

Parish Level                                                                                                        Multiple requests for parish life to completely resume and all ministries to be reinstated including altar server ministry for youth, social gatherings, and coffee & donuts after masses. Many parishioners requested that Parish Council and Finance Council members be elected and installed for our new parish. It was suggested that St. Veronica Parish create more opportunities for parishioners to be heard, i.e. potlucks.

“In the last two years so many decisions have been made quickly and in a manner that is reactionary. This was made necessary by the pandemic, but we need to be careful not to make it our permanent way of doing things.”

 

Need For a Return to Fundamentals of Faith

Diocesan & Vatican Level                                                                                        Concern was expressed over the idea of “The Church of the Third Millennium.” The question posed, “Why does the church need to change?” Assertions made that, in fact, changes that have been installed over the last several decades have served to “water down our faith.” Some parishioners expressed a strong desire for the return to traditional activities, values, and family focus.

“From the very top the Church needs to be more Universal. The Church is losing its influence because we are adapting to society… I don’t understand why we would attempt to fix the Catholic Church to adapt to people who don’t have faith. We should not adapt. This very process leads us astray.”

Parish Level                                                                                                        Return to definitive teaching from the pulpit regarding sin. Request for a return to teaching our youth from the Catechism.

 

Clergy

Diocesan & Vatican Level                                                                                            It was brought up that many priests used to be more a part of society. Due to the sex abuse scandal, pandemic, and dwindling number of priests, many live more solitary lives, and are therefore may be less able to relate or connect with parishioners’ daily lives.

“Priests are not as available, need to have more flexibility.”

“The dominance of celibate men in power in the Universal Church is not a good thing for the rest of the world. It doesn’t represent 99% of the Church…Need to involve more voices and perspectives.”

“In parishes and in the church hierarchy, it makes sense for lay people to be in positions of power and significant decision-making. Optimally, priests should be able to focus only on direct pastoring – sacraments, teaching, counseling, etc.”

Parish Level                                                                                                  Empathetic and understanding clergy was a source of solace and strength in challenging times. Clergy welcoming to divorced parishioners, teen mothers, single parents and LGBTQ+ community members. Compassionate priests have brought comfort and understanding during times of grief.

“Priests here are wonderful and inspirational.”

“Wish priests could stay in one place longer. Traditions aren’t kept when the personnel keeps changing.”

      

“Manners” of Communication

Diocesan & Vatican Level                                                                                    Diverse dialogue is disappearing from the world. Politicians/legislators do very little dialogue, debate, and reflection on other’s ideas. We follow news outlets tailored to what we want to hear. Social media limits our ability to listen to diverse voices. Preformed opinions and biases limit our ability to listen. The media and communication devices such as computers, phones, iPads, etc. can stunt communication in youth. With regard to the Universal Church people mostly feel that the Church is unyielding and there is no point in voicing dissenting opinions.

“Technology and media have made it difficult to listen. Lots of opportunities for common ground if we only listen.”   

“People find it easier to walk away.”

Parish Level

“I feel like in this parish we don’t really have much coming together for dialogue. Likeminded people talk to each other in an echo chamber.”

“We as a society don’t like difference, disagreement, or discord so we shy away from dialogue with people from other viewpoints. My own experience is that we are more divided from others by our personal ideology than we are by heritage or ancestry.”

 

Lack of Acceptance – Judgmental

Diocesan & Vatican Level                                                                                        The idea was expressed that the Catholic Church is judgmental, and the congregation is judgmental. Although Jesus was accepting of everyone there is an overwhelming feeling that the Catholic Church is exclusionary. No one should be rejected; all should be welcome.

“Do people think we are judging them because we follow our faith? Do you want everybody, or do you want true, faithful Catholics?”           

“Catholics are cold and unwelcoming in comparison to other faiths.”

Parish Level                                                                                                Parishioners expressed feeling judged whether I should be in church. The list of those who feel judged consists of but is not limited to; those struggling with mental health issues and depression, non-traditional families, youth in crises, people with disabilities, people of minority race.

 

How the Church Can Walk with Others

Diocesan & Vatican Level                                                                                            Invite guest speakers with diverse point of view and life experiences. Need to create an awareness of the discriminatory experiences people do have in our church. Cannot expect congregations and parishioners to be sensitive to something they haven’t witnessed and don’t experience.

Parish Level                                                                                                  Parishioners expressed desire to see more social events that get people (including disengaged parishioners and non-parishioners) together outside of Sunday Mass. Getting to know each other better is an important step in strengthening the church community.

"Outreach programs to the African community located near St. Malachy"

"Learning to share each other’s strengths."

“Well, I think it’s interesting that I hear about the different categories of meetings for men are used to age 40 but it doesn’t really seem like there were any groups for women or moms. Just wanna make sure we’re covering all the different possible categories.”

 

COMMITTEE REVIEW OF SYNOD PROCESS

Being part of the Synod on Synodality process was a great honor and a wonderful lesson in humility. The energy of our commitment to our Church during the sessions brought so much joy and hope.

In its ideal form a Synod “Listening Session” would include people from different walks of life, with differing experiences and perspectives. People would share and absorb what was said in a meeting and their eyes would be opened to the struggles, pains, joys and triumphs of their brothers and sisters in Christ. This is a great goal, but we are not there yet. The process is new, unexpected, and challenging. There are many questions from participants as to why this Synod is called for, and what the Church hopes to achieve.

Although the facilitators noticed many positive interactions and even healing interactions within the Synod, some participants displayed a reticence to openly share what was in their heart. What we are asked to do in this Synod is a learned, developed skill. One that takes practice and repetition. As we move beyond this first phase, we look forward to learning more ways to promote and adopt a more Synodal way of walking together within our own parishes and as a Universal Church.

 

Synod on Synodality Questions

1. In the Church and in society we are side by side on the same road.
What have been your joys and obstacles in your journeying together with the Catholic Church?

2. Listening is the first step, but it requires an open mind and heart, without prejudice.          How is God speaking to us through voices we sometimes ignore? What facilitates or inhibits our listening? What are some limitations in our ability to listen, especially to those who have different views than own own?

3. All are invited to speak with courage and parrhesia, that is, in freedom, truth and charity.      In what ways or moments has the Church encouraged you to speak up? How does the Church listen to you or hear what you are saying? How can the Church create greater opportunities for people to be heard?

4. Walking together is only possible if it is based on communal listening to the Word and the celebration of the Eucharist.                                                                                                   How do prayer and liturgical celebrations actually inspire and guide you? How do we promote the active participation of all the faithful in the liturgy?

5. Synodality is at the service of the mission of the Church, in which all members are called to participate.                                                                                                                        How connected do you feel to the core mission of the Church – making disciples for Jesus? Do you feel like you have been chosen for mission, equipped for that mission, and sent specifically out on that mission? In the course of that mission do you feel like you have a group of fellow missionary disciples with whom to share your experiences? How could we improve that kind of interaction in the Church?

6. Dialogue requires perseverance and patience, but it also enables mutual understanding.          To what extent do diverse peoples in our community come together for dialogue? What particular issues in the Church and society do we need to pay more attention to?

7. Dialogue between Christians of different confessions, united by one baptism, has a special place in the synodal journey.                                                                                            What relationship does our Church community have with members of other Christian traditions and denominations? What are the fruits and difficulties with walking together?

8. A synodal church is a participatory and co-responsible Church.                                          How does our Church community identify the goals to be pursued, the way to reach them, and the steps to be taken? How are lay ministries and the responsibility of lay people promoted? Is there a way we can foster a more synodal approach in our participation and leadership?

9. In a synodal style we make decisions through discernment of what the Holy Spirit is saying through our whole community.                                                                                          What methods and processes do we use in decision-making? How can they be improved?

10. Synodality entails receptivity to change, formation and on-going learning.                        How can our church community form people to be more capable of “walking together,” listening to one another, participating in mission, and engaging in dialogue? What formation is or could be offered to foster discernment and the exercise of authority in a synodal way?

 

The Synod is an ongoing process. If you wish to add your experience and voice for our parish, it's never too late, please call the office at 781-272-3111 or email stveronica@stveronicaparish.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Participation Session


Catholics Come Home Catholic TV

 

Online Giving

Online Giving

Secure and Convenient Donate now!