By Demetria Banda

The Catholic Church in Malawi will this Sunday 17th October 2021 launch the Synod in all the eight Dioceses after Pope Francis had launched it on 9th – 10th October, 2021 in Rome. The theme of the Synod is; “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission” and is expected to be celebrated till 2023.

According to National Pastoral Coordinator , Fr Henry Chinkanda, ‘Synod’ is an ancient and venerable word in the Tradition of the Church means ‘Journeying together as a Church’ while drawing themes from Revelation answering the felt needs of the lived experience of people. A Synod indicates the path along which the People of God walk together. In other words, Synod means doing things together. Synodality denotes the particular style that qualifies the life and mission of the Church, 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.

“We learn from history that the Catholic Church has been conducting synods since early days. The Synod was convoked mainly to try and discuss few problems emanating in the Church and society so as to find ways of addressing them and new ways of evangelization. There have been Synods regarding the Youth, Family life and many other synods, but this particular Synod is a very special one. The theme, that calls “For a synodal church” specifically invites people and Christians to live in communion as a Family of God, to participate in the life and activities of the Church and to embrace their missionary duty because, being baptized, Christians are also sent out as ambassadors of God’s message,”

“This path entitled ‘For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission’ will provide an opportunity for the entire People of God to discern together how to move forward on the path towards being a more synodal Church in the long-term. One of the fruits of the Second Vatican Council was the institution of the Synod of Bishops. While the Synod of Bishops has taken place up until now as a gathering of Bishops with and under the authority of the Pope, the Church increasingly realizes that Synodality is the path for the entire People of God. Hence the Synodal Process is no longer only an assembly of bishops but a journey for all the faithful, in which every local Church has an integral part to play,” explained Fr Chinkanda citing Pope Francis’s words.

It is expected that by the end of synod in 2023, all the different stakeholders within the Church would be consulted, people will be able to participate and manifest their missionary zeal in the Church and we hope that this process will yield positive results, said Fr Chinkanda

The Bishops will take advantage of the already existing pastoral programmes to launch the Synod in their respective Dioceses. He concluded that this Synodal Process is not only a series of exercises that start and stop, but rather a journey of growing authentically towards the communion and mission that God calls the Church to live out in the third millennium.

This journey together will call on us to renew our mentalities and our ecclesial structures in order to live out God’s call for the Church amid the present signs of the times. In the end, this Synodal Process seeks to move towards a Church that is more fruitfully at the service of the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven.