Cardinal Wuerl Celebrates Pentecost Mass, Announces Archdiocesan Synod Recommendations

June 8, 2014

WASHINGTON – Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, today convoked the first Archdiocesan Synod as he celebrated Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle on the Solemnity of Pentecost. The statutes and recommendations produced through the Synod preparatory process and presented at today’s Synod were based on more than 15,000 suggestions collected from the faithful across the archdiocese through parish listening sessions and online surveys over the past two years.

“This Pentecost the Archdiocese of Washington experiences a unique moment in its history,” said Cardinal Wuerl in his homily. “Gathered in this cathedral are laywomen and laymen, religious, deacons, priests and the bishops of this local Church as we conclude two years of work that has been a part of our first Archdiocesan Synod. We see and hear in this ecclesial event the action of a new Pentecost – of the grace of that first original Pentecost – the ever-new outpouring of the Holy Spirit.”

A local Synod is defined as “a group of selected priests and other members of the Christian faithful of a particular Church who offer assistance to the diocesan bishop for the good of the whole diocesan community.”

“Our Archdiocesan Synod has been a time to fully take stock, with honesty and humility, of the condition of our spiritual home. In this prayerful process, input from the faithful was gathered with the goal of providing concrete direction so that we can better prepare ourselves to carry forward the work of the Church into the future,” said Cardinal Wuerl. “The deliberations and recommendations of the Archdiocesan Synod demonstrate a clear awareness on the part of Synod participants of the profound, fundamental centrality of the New Evangelization and the entirety of the mission that is entrusted to us, as well as a knowledge of the diversity of services and ministries available to the Church through the many gifts that God pours out on the faithful.”

The Synod gave the faithful from across the archdiocese the opportunity to reflect on the mission of the Archdiocese of Washington as well as to provide their insight on the life of the local Church and how  best to carry out  its work in the future.

“The conclusion of our Synod is not so much an ending as it is a new beginning. This renewal of faith and fervor in our spiritual family is not meant to be a one-time event for the history books. Rather it has the purpose of forming, informing and directing the mission and life in the Spirit of our local Church into the future,” said Cardinal Wuerl. “Pentecost is an occasion to thank God for an outpouring of the Spirit that has touched this Church in a real and visible way. We pray that God continue to bless our efforts as a family of faith so that we can manifest as fully as possible the kingdom of God here and now.”

In August 2012 Cardinal Wuerl announced his intention to convene an Archdiocesan Synod to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the formation of the archdiocese by Pope Pius XII on July 22, 1939. On May 19, 2013, he marked the formal beginning of the preparatory phase of the Synod at a Mass on Pentecost Sunday.

The official participants for the Archdiocesan Synod included archdiocesan officials such as the auxiliary bishops, priests, religious sisters and brothers who serve in the archdiocese as well as lay members from all 14 deaneries, or geographic jurisdictions, throughout the Archdiocese of Washington’s five Maryland counties and the District of Columbia.

All of the faithful throughout the archdiocese were invited to participate in listening sessions at parishes and through online communications in order to take a look at the life of the Church of Washington to evaluate areas where ministry is successful and where there may be need for more attention. The frame of reference for the reflections and discussions within the archdiocesan Synod included the five areas of Church life, referred to as the “Indicators of Vitality.” These areas are: worship, education, community, service and administration/stewardship. The official participants of the Archdiocesan Synod evaluated and reflected upon what was heard in the parish and online listening sessions and prepared the recommendations presented today. The Synod also reviewed and updated existing policies in the Archdiocese of Washington.

The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 620,000 Catholics, 139 parishes and 96 Catholic schools, located in Washington, D.C., and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.

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