At the beginning of a new academic year, Caritas Westminster’s Assistant Director, Meriel Woodward, shares some thoughts on the journey we can all make together, in our schools, parishes and communities. A journey towards heaven on earth.
We are fortunate that in every ward, town or borough in the Diocese, and much of the world, there is a Catholic church and school. Each parish and school has a huge richness of diversity across ages, races, nationalities, orientations, abilities and disabilities. Each school is full of passionate teachers and many young minds. All have an abundance of love, faith and hope. This is our shared now.
Through the Our Father all Christians pray for a future vision of “Thy Will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven,” We can all have a concept of what heaven is like. We can all imagine a better life of heaven on earth. This is our future, our destination.
We are fortunate to have Catholic Social Teaching, a values lens through which to see the world; with dignity of human person, preferential treatment of the poor and vulnerable, and a plea to care for our common home. This is our direction of travel.
We have Jesus Christ as our role model. When we are beset with challenges, we can ask “What would Jesus do?” He is our guide.
By reawakening the process of synodal listening from the early Church, we are supported to use new tools and ways of working. We are invited to dedicate time and space to the process of deep and active listening. We are asked to add in periods of silence and discernment, to invite the Holy Spirit in. These are opportunities of encounter and accompaniment, the tools we need to grow to understand each other. This is the method of determining the way.
There is a recognition that the whole Church is not at the same starting point, and will not travel at the same speed. Not all solutions can be found at the local level. Through the synodal process, observations made at grassroots level are fed up through the hierarchy of the church. Anything that can’t be solved at local level can be discussed and discerned with others, by listening to many other diverse voices. It is from this process, that we can receive enlightened leadership. This provides us with affirmation, recognition of our progress, wisdom in the form of healthy and safe boundaries for change, and an opportunity for the greater good. This is our shared journey.
It is my belief that in order to respond to the signs of the times, we have everything we need: an appreciation of where we are now, an audacious vision of our shared destination, our value compass, our guide and a process of how to find the best way, and the leadership to help us take it together, even though we may have different start points and see things in different ways. Let’s get travelling!