By Terry O’Neill
Archbishop J. Michael Miller has been elected by his fellow Canadian bishops as one of six bishops who will represent the Canadian Catholic Church at the Synod of Bishops in Rome in October 2023.
The Bishops’ Synod on Synodality will mark the beginning of the final phase of the global synodal process that began last year with parish-level meetings. The bishops will also meet in October 2024 to conclude their “prolonged discernment” process.
Archbishop Miller told the audience at the annual Archbishop’s Dinner, held in Vancouver Oct. 26, that the synodal process in the Vancouver Archdiocese involved more than 5,000 people, including members of 67 parishes.
He said the local synod’s principal concerns centred on several areas:
- desire for ongoing faith formation related to real-life issues;
- development of ministries to families “as they struggle to live and pass on the faith to the next generation;”
- need for parishes to create a “culture of invitation;”
- and the desire that local Church leaders spend more time building relationships.
The archdiocese’s then-chancellor, Barb Dowding, led a team that prepared a synthesis report on the local findings which they then sent to bishops in Western Canada. They in turn compiled their own synthesis report, which was sent to Ottawa for the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) to draw up a single, 10-page report summarizing all Canadian input.
Bishop Raymond Poisson, president of the CCCB and a member of the national synthesis-writing team, said the synthesis shows that Catholics in Canada want their church to be relevant and engaged. “They recognize an urgent need for the Church to undergo a profound missionary renewal,” Bishop Poisson said in a news release.
His colleague on the synthesis-writing team, Archbishop Richard Gagnon of Winnipeg, said he was greatly encouraged by the level of engagement he witnessed in the process. “It showed that God remains at the centre of the lives of many Canadians, and that many families feel a positive connection with the impact Catholic parishes are having in their communities,” he said.
The next step in the process will be the staging of continental synodal assemblies, scheduled to take place between January and March of next year in advance of the first global gathering in Rome.
“As the meeting of the Synod of Bishops in Rome approaches, as an Archdiocese we will continue our own journey along the synodal path that we have learned to walk,” Archbishop Miller told the dinner audience.
“It is certainly my hope that our archdiocesan ministries, our parishes, and all organizations will take to heart what the synodal process has taught us about how we should go about prayerfully discerning where the Holy Spirit wants to lead us in the coming decades that promise to be extraordinarily challenging for the Catholic Church in an increasingly post-Christian world.”
A CCCB news release said Archbishop Miller will be the “first delegate” representing the “English Sector” of Canada, Bishop William McGrattan of Calgary will be the second delegate, and Bishop Daniel Miehm will be the substitute. Bishops Marc Pelchat (Quebec), Poisson (Saint-Jerome-Mont-Laurier), and Alain Faubert (Montreal) will represent the French Sector.
The six delegates were elected by secret ballot at the Plenary Assembly of the CCCB in late September.
“I look forward to taking part personally in the Synod of Bishops in Rome,” Archbishop Miller said, adding that his attendance will mean next year’s Archbishop’s Dinner will have to be postponed until November 2023.