Giovanni Gauzza’s plans changed and resulted in a spiritual uplifting experience as the 16-year-old parishioner of St. Martin de Porres in Poughkeepsie was one of about 160 people from the Dutchess/Putnam deanery to attend an archdiocesan listening session for Synod 2021-2023 at St. Columba in Hopewell Junction March 26.
The morning began with a prayer service before the Blessed Sacrament in St. Columba Church before moving to St. Denis-St. Columba School for breakfast and small-group discussions, with the first focusing on the Holy Spirit and listening, and the second on synodal questions.
Group notes were taken and submitted to regional dean, Father Joseph McLaffery, pastor of St. Kateri Tekakwitha in LaGrangeville. The feedback will be part of a report delivered to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops before being sent to the Vatican for the Synod of Bishops, scheduled for October 2023.
“Knowing it goes to the Holy Father and the Synod in Rome is so wonderful, and it’s a great idea to get the people involved too, being able to know what the people are thinking and what they’re experiencing in their lives,” Gauzza, who was able to attend the session because his scheduled baseball game at Our Lady of Lourdes High School was canceled, told CNY.
In the 30-minute prayer service, Father McLafferty placed the Eucharist in the monstrance for Scripture reading, prayer, meditation and hymns.
“Everything comes from our prayer and our relationship with Jesus, so we need to spend time with Him in order for any fruit of anything that we do in the Church to bear fruit,” Father McLafferty said.
Inside the school, small-group discussions on listening and the Holy Spirit were the first part of the Synodal discussion focusing on who is the Holy Spirit, how do we listen to the Holy Spirit and how do we listen to each other.
“Being able to talk about and discuss the Holy Spirit is very influential in even understanding how the Holy Spirit works through our lives, being able to talk with each other and how much the Holy Spirit plays a role in all the decisions we make,” said Gauzza, who plans to enter Cathedral Seminary House of Formation in Douglaston, Queens, in 2023.
The prayer service and first part of the Synod discussions prepared participants for the final part of the meeting—synodal discussion questions—that began with a reading from the Book of James and a prayer led by Father McLafferty. There were five parts to the discussion—getting started, fundamental question, celebrating, co-responsible in the mission and forming ourselves in synodality—with questions in each to assist the groups in their journey together with Jesus and the Holy Spirit to form themselves in Synodality.
Shirley Rugar, 74, who participated with two friends and fellow parishioners from St. Joseph-Immaculate Conception in Millbrook, said she wished the event was longer.
“The people at our table are so involved with the Lord and the Holy Spirit, it’ll make us stronger because of all we’re going through, not just the pandemic,” she said. “Now all the feelings we have with what’s going on in this nation and this world, it makes us feel that we have the Holy Spirit to fall back on.”