February 17, 2023

Archdiocesan Catholics take part in synod’s continental phase

By Sean Gallagher

Archdiocesan Catholics who took part in the continental phase of the preparation for the world Synod of Bishops meeting on synodality found the experience was a boost to their faith and strengthened their hope in the Church’s future.

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson, archdiocesan chancellor Christopher Walsh and archdiocesan director of catechesis Ken Ogorek were joined in this participation by Anita Bardo, Vanessa Alcantara Chavez and Lucy Wahnsiedler.

Each took part in online meetings with Catholics from across the U.S. and Canada from mid-December through late January.

In discussing synodality, they explored how all the faithful are called to contribute to the guiding of the life of the Church through prayerful listening and sharing their own thoughts.

Bardo is a member of St. Rita Parish in Indianapolis and serves there as director of faith formation. She also recently became the archdiocese’s coordinator of evangelization and discipleship.

She described taking part in the continental phase of the Synod of Bishops as “an opportunity for me to be mindful of others’ thoughts and to listen more with a sincere heart.”

“The Holy Spirit is guiding us in our lives, recognizing that Christ is the center of our lives,” Bardo said. “This experience is an encouraging and important one that will allow me to strengthen my faith, listen more to God’s voice and to be a witness to others.”

Chavez has been involved for many years on a volunteer basis in a variety of ministries at St. Gabriel the Archangel Parish in Indianapolis. Her profession allows her to help victims of domestic violence.

She found encouragement in interacting with Catholics across North America who, like her, are giving themselves in service to others.

“Sometimes in this job, one gets tired, but this experience helped me remember that there is always someone interested and thinking about my spiritual well-being,” Chavez said. “There is always someone who wants to listen to me and who wants to remind me that I am an important and needed member of this great family.”

At 22, Wahnsiedler brought a young adult perspective to the archdiocese’s participation in the synod meetings.

Having recently become the archdiocese’s special events coordinator for the Office of Stewardship and Development, Wahnsiedler said the meetings gave her “a newfound hope for our Church through experiencing the genuine love of and service to the Catholic Church throughout the continent.”

“By speaking with and listening to other individuals, I was able to see how the unity of Christ can truly penetrate the diversity of the world in a way that is full of mutual love, respect and true advocacy for the Church, her teachings, and her mission,” said Wahnsiedler, a member of St. Matthew the Apostle Parish in Indianapolis. “Personally, I loved the focus on prayer throughout the synodal experience.”

Ogorek helped organize the earlier diocesan phase of preparation for the Synod of Bishops within the Church in central and southern Indiana. He was glad to take part in the experience of this synod process with people from other dioceses across North America.

“It was affirming in some ways to hear that the joys and concerns of folks from other states as well as Canada are at least somewhat similar to our own,” he said.

As the Church moves forward to the universal phase of the synod to take place at the Vatican in the fall, Ogorek encouraged archdiocesan Catholics to “fast and pray for the intention of God’s holy and perfect will manifesting itself over the course of this synod as well as future experiences of this regular way for Church leaders to gather and identify the Holy Spirit’s ongoing work.” †

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