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SYNOD 2010

Guidelines for Work/Study Groups


Our Vision for Work/Study Groups:Stepping up to the mandate ofVaticanII

Purpose:to become a community of informed and articulate people prepared, according to our baptismal responsibility, to ask questions and speak for reform in our church.

Work/Study Goals: get a comprehensive overview of the scope of the subject matter with particular attention to the U.S. church and the specifics of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. produce a written report of your study with concrete proposals for change in the practices of the local church. present the report at the Synod in the Fall of 2010 select one or more members to represent the group on a Post-Synod Coordinating Council whose job it will be to determine priorities and to create communication systems within the local church for implementation of the proposals.


Guideline Contents:

I.Assumptions: the underlying ideas driving our work  Page 2

II.Method: suggestions for conducting the meetings  Page 3

A. Communication styles

B. Scheduling

III.Content Development: Page 4

A.Background: relating the subject to the larger contexts for understanding

B.Proposals: recommending practices to change the culture

IV.Results:Page 5

A. Written Report

B. Synod Presentation

C. Representative to Post-Synod Coordinating Council



Page 2


I.Assumptions:(These are all open to question, discussion, reformulation by the group!)

A. The Gospel message is about a loving God whose intent is our eternal well-being.It is a vision of “a community of universal mutual love and cooperation to be forged out of suffering and conflict as in Jesus’ own life; this is the responsibility we all share.” Patrick A. Heelan, S.J.

B.Our understanding of Church is mission-centered. The mission of the Church is to create the community of mutual love and cooperation as a sacrament of the relational life of God.It is to share the good news in the world by relating to all in need.Mutual love and cooperation is a cultural system dynamic that needs nurturing.

C.The Roman Catholic institution, like all social institutions, has the role of nurturing the community it contains, supporting the mission, and carrying the Gospel tradition through time. Where the institution hinders mission, it loses its value as sacrament. Its practices form the culture of its members.Its practices are always in need of loving adjustment and God speaks to it through all its members.

D. We are using the word “culture” to refer to the broadest category of shared group experience, the “we” sense of the social group.Sometimes it is so ingrained that it is hard to reflect on.It is the group’s shared attitudes, ideas, and choices, including religious, ethical, and political ideas, customs and expectations of others, as well as meanings conveyed in language. We are assuming it can be changed by the dissemination of appealing ideas and by changing practices. (How did we go from a smoking culture to a non-smoking culture?Could you have predicted that 30 years ago?)

E. The U.S. Church has been influenced by the cultures of its immigrant roots, but until recent immigrations, it had become largely assimilated into mainstream U.S. culture.The Vatican culture is distinct from the culture of the U.S. Church.

F.Communication—the encounter of subject to subject—in interrelated networks is the only way to create the community of mutual love and cooperation that is the Gospel vision. Where there is no communication, there is no one, holy, catholic or apostolic community that the institution is charged to maintain.We need mechanisms for open, free, and serious communication within all sectors of the Archdiocese.

Page 3


A.Communication styles:This suggestion is made by Brian Hutchins, a member of the Work/Study Group on Catholic Spirituality. Use it if it is helpful to you.

“I prefer a five-fold method of organizing the process that respects and honors our different gifts and leads to centering the work on the full experience of the team.  Here, in brief, is how that works. If you imagine a five-fold way--north, south, east, west, and center, corresponding to father, son, spirit, self, and mother, you get the idea.1.  Begin in the center (mother) with the kinds of questions mothers ask or things they might say:  "Where have you been?  How are you feeling about that?  "What were you thinking!?"  "I thought we had settled this."  The mother is earth and grounds us; always begin there. 2. Father - Review expert opinion / any data or research / access wisdom from elders.3. Son - Review and assign tasks, timelines, discuss difficulties.4. Spirit - For this group this is a time for prayer - any group it is to reflect on motivation and explore the question why.5.. Self - Each member should share their thoughts and feelings regarding the process of the meeting.  This is a good place to vent in the context of the work.This is a simple method.  It only matters that all five directions are tended too.  I feel strongly that it promotes a holistic awareness of place, encompasses different "types" of people and allows for active participation throughout. A method of this sort is necessary, I think, to develop a healthy relationship to the whole content of the Synod which will, as the work progresses, lay a base for a healthy and adult response to other members of the local church.  It can be very helpful to look upon specific interactions with priests, bishops, and parishioners in light of the direction they are working from.  Most of us in our work are confined to just one direction.  If we are practiced with confronting all directions we are more likely to be a light to others when they are stuck in one place.”



1.First meetings in May/June 2009.Set your own schedules thereafter.

2.Divide the time between June 2009 to July 2010 for content development, proposal and presentation preparation.We will need written reports by August 1, 2010.

3.Put your meeting dates on the calendar: website at Check it for all information pertaining to work/study groups, joint meetings, etc.

4.We will have a first joint meeting with all study groups on July 8, 2009, 7-9 at St.Edward’s in Bloomington.We would like to hear your plans, outlines, schedules, etc. atthat meeting.

Sabathani Center at 310 E. 38thStreet in Minneapolis has meeting rooms for rent if you need a place to meet.Call Joan Snyder at (612) 82-2300.The cost is $12 per hour.

Page 4

III.Content Development:


1.History: Situate your topic in it historical setting. Determine which periods or ideas in European or U.S. history are most relevant to your topic. Trace its development to the present.Attached is a timeline of Church history with source suggestions.

2.Theology: What do post-Vatican II theologians have to say about your topic? How does the Gospel message inform your topic?How does your topic relate to the mission of the Church?Attached is an outline prepared by Bernie Rodel about post-Vatican II ecclesiology. A theology guideline will be distributed when it is finished. Check the website for sources.

3.Sociology/Anthropology: What are the human social systems at work in your topic? Consider the social dimensions.Are there parallels in the civic arena?What are the cultural influences that affect your topic?Is it exclusively a matter of Catholic culture or does mainstream US culture have an influence?Are the core values of Western liberal democratic republics—liberty and equality—at issue in your topic?

4.Psychology:What developmental stage issues are involved in your topic? Consider the lines of development, cognitive, emotional, moral, aesthetic, spiritual.Consider cultural stage development also.Attached is a summary of spiral dynamics theory.A summary of several theories in developmental psychology will follow.

5. Sources:Keep a bibliography of your sources.Share them by citing them on


1.Research the present policies and practices in the Archdiocese that pertain to your issue.Be as accurate and complete as you can. Go to the policy and decision makers if you can.Keep records of the information you get.You might have to use interviews, informal surveys, etc.You might find that we can support and promote efforts that are already being made by another agency.

2.Formulate the policy you think should guide the decision making on your issue.

3.Formulate the proposals for a specific change in practice that would bring about the desired change in the local Catholic culture.

4.Break-out sessions at the Synod will suggest ways for the Post-Synod Coordinating Council to communicate your proposal to the people who can implement it.

Page 5


A. Written Report:

1.Overview:Summarize the contexts you studied for your topic.“What is the background necessary to understand the disconnect with the Gospel?”

2.Issue in the local church: Summarize the present policies and practices you researched.“What is the state of the problem in this Archdiocese?”

3.List your proposals for practices that will change the culture.“What specific practice will move the community toward greater mutuality and cooperation?”

4.Compile a bibliography.

B. Synod 2010 Presentation:

You will receive detailed information about the presentations and the break out sessions by Fall, 2009.

C. Representative to the Post-Synod Coordinating Council

You will receive detailed information about the PSCC as it develops.

Final suggestion:Don’t forget to party.Thanks for being a 2010 Synod participant

Featured Items

Council of the Baptized Open Forum, May 8, 2018


The Open Forum is held at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 700 S. Snelling Avenue in St. Paul. 

Continuing our discussion of Vatican II spirituality on May 8,  Nancy Gotto and Bonnie Strand, Council of the Baptized members, with Catherine Michaud, C.S.J., will be discussing the People of God: Sharing in the roles of Jesus, Priest, Prophet, and King.

What does Vatican II say about the shared mission of Christ? 
Does Baptism really establish us as a royal priesthood? 
Have you embraced your anointed prophet yet?   

Please join us.

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