Synod Listening Sessions

On Sunny Saturday, Manhattan South Deanery Basks in Synod ‘Duty’

During Lent, Catholics from the 12 deaneries in the Archdiocese of New York gathered with fellow parishioners to pray and provide synodal input.


The Saturday Synod session at Our Saviour Church on Park Avenue began at 10 a.m. April 2 with a dignified prayer service before the Blessed Sacrament, then convened in the parish hall below the church for small group discussions that continued into the early afternoon. Some participants were surprised how quickly the time had passed at the conclusion of the three-hour gathering.

The sunshine outdoors reflected what seemed to be optimistic and observant dispositions indoors of the nearly 200 participants representing the Manhattan South deanery.

Afterward, Msgr. Kevin Nelan, dean of Manhattan South, shared his assessment with CNY. “Every table I visited or talked to, the people seemed very energized,” he said, and “happy for the opportunity to express their views” through their responses to the synod questions.

That they would take time on a beautiful Saturday to participate in the Synod listening session shows “they really care,” he said.

The Church’s outreach amid Covid-19 was among the official discussion questions. “Looking back on the darkest days of the pandemic, we saw the goodness of our Church in action. What have we done well throughout these trying times? How can we continue to effectively live out our mission of bringing others to Jesus?”

General commentary at the discussion tables included the advantages of parishes that are advanced in technology; the importance of ongoing catechesis for adults; how to involve so-called “pew people” to become involved in parish ministries and the exploration of opportunities for the faithful to visit parishes outside of their own and for parishes to engage in events together. 

Brian Hogan, 56 and his son Sean Hogan, 33, of St. John the Evangelist-Our Lady of Peace parish on East 55th Street, told CNY they considered it their duty to participate in the Synod session.

“It’s things like this that keep the Catholic community strong,” Brian Hogan said. While priests have a vital role in the parish, so too do the laity, he added. “It’s also our duty as parishioners to come together collectively to speak what’s on our minds.”

He found it interesting learning about the needs and concerns of the other parishes represented at his discussion table. “New York City is a melting pot. You’ve got different communities and different needs from one parish to maybe 15 blocks away. That’s what’s important about this. That’s what I loved about it.”

Brian Hogan considered it “a blessing” to participate with his son. “It’s important for his age group to be represented at the table” as well, he said.

Sean Hogan said he committed his Saturday because his faith is important to him and that attending with his father was natural as the family is close. He wanted to learn about the viewpoints of others and also have his heard, he said. “That’s what it’s about. We’re all Catholics. We’re all here together. We all love God.

“The biggest thing that I took away was just how everybody has ideas and everybody is really strong in their love for their community and their faith; they all want to make sure that their church thrives. That’s the most important thing.”

Kaitlyn Colgan, 24, a program leader for the archdiocesan Young Adult Outreach office, was among the small group facilitators. “Like I said in the group, we were not here to change Church teaching, but we do want to make sure that everyone is heard, that everyone knows they are deeply beloved. They are important to the Church, they are important to Jesus.”


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