Synod Listening Sessions

Staten Island Deanery Participant Sought to Serve as ‘Voice for My Parish’

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

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At Our Lady of Pity parish on Staten Island, about 100 Catholics attended the Staten Island Deanery’s Synod three-hour listening session April 2.

“I’m here to learn more about this effort led by the pope. And I want to help revive the Church,” Rosanna Jimenez, a parishioner of St. Joseph-St. Mary Immaculate, told CNY during a session break.

“This is something that is very important, and I believe this process will help the Church, not only the Church in New York but the entire Church worldwide, with the fire of the Holy Spirit.

“I am here to listen, to learn and to participate. There was a talk about the Holy Spirit, and it was the Holy Spirit who brought me here.” 

Mrs. Jimenez and two other attendees had just received applause while returning to their table after singing the hymn “Fisher of Men” (“Pescador de Hombre”) in Spanish. Her singing companions were David and Marlene Suarez, parishioners of Our Lady of Mount Carmel-St. Benedicta and St. Mary of the Assumption.

Attendees separated into 14 small groups to discuss the Synod topics. Later, a group rep from each discussion table gave a summary. 

Among the Church's “doing-well” activities and programs discussed was the wide practice of livestreaming Masses beginning in March 2020 when the pandemic lockdown began. Other pandemic-inspired “doing-well” activities were pro-active outreach to the isolated, stepped up online giving, increase in mailing bulletins and the increased use of the archdiocesan Flocknote communication program. 

General “doing-wells'' included productive parish council meetings, thoughtful and compassionate outreach programs, and well-attended Mass celebrations. 

On the “could do better” list were to seek out more non-council members to attend parish council meetings, increase multi-parish events and programs, and avoid cliques within parishes.

Also on the “could do better” list: the need to better promote adult faith formation; be open to learning more about a ministry other than the one in which you’re already involved; and for parishioners’ ideas for improvement to be proactively considered by Church leaders.  

Lead organizers were Jay and Mary Dale Spach, parishioners of Blessed Sacrament. “The Holy Father doesn't want these to be meetings and brainstorming; he wants each to be a thoughtful and spiritual experience. It starts with getting in touch with how the Holy Spirit speaks to us,” Jay Spach told CNY. 

Noting their strong desire to share their expertise in leading the session, Mrs. Spach said, “This is what we do, we’re management consultants” by profession.  

Gail Decker, who serves as an extraordinary Eucharistic minister of Holy Communion at Our Lady Star of the Sea, told CNY she decided to attend “because I believe that if you’re not part of the solution, then you’re part of the problem...It’s the only way to get our young people back. I wanted to be a voice for my parish.”

Several Staten Island pastors and women religious attended. Msgr. William Belford, dean of the Staten Island Deanery and pastor of St. Teresa parish, led a prayer service in Our Lady of Pity Church for attendees before the Synod session began in a parish multipurpose building. 

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