PORTLAND — In May, Pope Francis invited the global Catholic Church to gather and reflect on communion, participation, and mission within the Church. The two-year process of listening and dialogue is called, For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, & Mission. The process is being referred to as the “synod on synodality.”  

Bishop Robert Deeley will be asking the Catholic Church in Maine to participate in this exercise in a variety of ways, but the Diocese of Portland’s participation in the process will officially begin with a special Mass, celebrated by the bishop, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland on Sunday, Nov. 21, at 10 a.m. All are welcome to attend, and the Mass will also be livestreamed at www.portlandcatholic.org/online-Mass.

In the coming months, the phase of diocesan consultation will include meetings and discussions by a variety of bodies in Maine’s Catholic community, including diocesan councils, parish pastoral councils, different boards of Catholic entities, and consultative groups representing the Latino community, the African community, teens, religious men and women, and many others. Individuals in the general public will also be invited to complete an online questionnaire if they would like to participate.

Among the topics that will be discussed and reflected upon are how prayer and liturgical celebrations inspire and guide activities; how council, group, and committee work flow from participation in the Eucharist; whether these groups are serving as effective bridges to parishioners and community members; and any obstacles that are being encountered. A group summary report will be created to sketch a profile of the results of the conversations and to identify common themes for inclusion in the public online questionnaire as well as the final report that will be submitted to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2022.  

“This synod is an opportunity to meet the request of the Holy Father to engage in dialogue to better understand our call to holiness and feel the responsibility to participate in the life of the Church,” said Bishop Deeley. “Outreach, communication, support, and encouragement are vital to be missionary disciples. I pray that the process will enrich and guide the future path of both the local Church as well as the universal Church.”

Fittingly, the launch Mass on Nov. 21 occurs on the Feast of Christ the King (also known as the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe), which is a celebration of the victory of Christ and fulfilling God’s dream of bringing the world together in peace and justice. It is held on the last Sunday prior to Advent and was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925 to respond to growing nationalism and secularism.

More information on the “synod on synodality” will be released in the coming months at www.portlanddiocese.org.