A meeting to remember
When Gerry O’Hanlon SJ gathered with diocesan synodal representatives from around Ireland recently the atmosphere in the upper room of the hotel in Athlone was, as he tells Pat Coyle in this interview, ‘tense’.
He was there as a member of the Irish synodal steering committee and they were presenting those gathered, “male, female, gay, straight, bishops, clergy, religious and lay, young and old,” with the committee’s summary of the representatives’ findings.
The delegates at this ‘pre-synodal’ assembly included parish members and spokespersons from a variety of organisations such as Trócaire and We are Church. They, in turn, had collated all the responses from their various group/parish members who had taken part in the synodal reflection process initiated by Pope Francis.
In Ireland in all the 26 dioceses, parishioners had met in groups to listen and to discuss their experience of the Catholic Church and their hope and fears regarding its future. Written accounts of their feedback had been submitted to the steering committee.
So would they feel heard and were their submissions (some quite contentious) recorded accurately by the committee so that they as representatives could stand over them? It was a crucial question as these submissions would be going to Rome and would hopefully inform the thinking of the global synodal process.
Gerry O’Hanlon recounts the story of what unfolded in that apprehensive upper room.