Two Dreams in One
As I began to write this article the image in my mind was of the many ZOOM Gatherings held for OMI Lacombe Canada Province in the past two years, where because of COVID-19 we could only gather online.
These gatherings were my introduction to the Synodal Process that I would later share with my own parish.
It was the Oblates and Oblate Associates coming together from across from BC District to Ontario District, who introduced me to the process and possibilities. They were sessions of prayer, discernment, listening and sharing. They were also sessions filled with joy, reconnection, renewal and being a part of something so much greater than just our personal selves. As I said, the joy, the laughter, the catching up with each other and getting to witness the commitments of new Oblate Associates journeying with us – many by ZOOM. No matter the heaviness of the topics that we were entering into the joy of being together was impossible to hide. We used the process just to come together and pray – and our relationships were sustained and grew. Even as I type these words my eyes fill with tears of happiness and my entire face seems to be smiling.
We learned to come together in a way that invited growth and communion – it just didn’t look the same as what we were used to doing in person.
And so, when my parish asked me to Coordinate the Parish Synodal Journey – at least the first part, I readily agreed – because my first experiences of Synodality were so positive, so heart-nourishing.
We began by recruiting volunteers who would facilitate group sessions and scribes who would try to capture the essence of what was being shared with us. I found myself remembering how the Provincial Team members would speak about first meeting using the synodal process before calling us all together to listen to what we had to offer and share. I asked this of the volunteers and together we responded to the questions that we would pose to the parishioners. That way we were able to share and then be free to really listen to what the parishioners were saying to us.
I was blown-away by these people who I knew fairly well – they were sharing their faith journeys with each other – their struggles and joys, doubts, and their moments of trust. Their love for God and God in each other. So deep an impression did it make on me that when I gave my Reflection on the Feast of the Transfiguration, I shared what we had seen in each other.
Then we began the greater parish journey together. And what a journey! Coming together, sharing our struggles, our doubts, our sorrows, our joys, and our dreams. Again, I was able to witness the light coming from each person as they shared. People who came from the far left and the far right and the many more who walked down the middle, carrying a tension within them, but willing to risk it, so great was/is their love for God, evidenced in how they loved each other. Each of them a facet of a magnificent diamond, each one different but a part of the greater whole.
Never have I felt so blessed to be a part of this journey with so many. I was so enthusiastic that I dared to promise everyone that in the fall we would come back together, in person and continue the journey together.
I haven’t yet made the proposal to the parish Director or the members of the Parish Pastoral Council – that is next. Now we are working to write the parish summary to go to the Archdiocese, followed by a fuller report to the Synod Office in Rome. While it is important what we were able to capture, it was the relationships that were built, and which grew in this first part of an overall process and way of moving forward together that will sustain and accompany us in our next steps.
This is what I learned from our Lacombe Oblate Family and am continuing to share with my parish family.
Two dreams in one.
By Eleanor Rabnett