Synodal Church

Pope Francis has called all Catholics around the world to participate in a Synod to bring about a Synodal Church through Communion, Participation and Mission.  “Synodality is the way of being the Church today according to the will of God, in a dynamic of discerning and listening together to the voice of the Holy Spirit.”  Read Fr. Terry’s statement which was submitted this spring.  

To view the Holy Family statements by parishioners and included in our submission to the Synod, please contact Sue at

 Fr. Terry Keehan Statement on Synod on Synodality 

Holy Family Catholic Community – Inverness, IL 

A few years ago, my good friend Fr. Jack Wall and I were reflecting on the church and our conversation led us to identify that these modern times have ushered in a new epic era of the Church. We both have enough knowledge of church history to have identified the hallmarks of, and transitions between, the various epic eras. At the time, he and I labeled the next epic era as The Era of the Laity. No doubt the laity will play a more significant role in our Church, but I have come to believe that the next epic era will include more than just increased lay involvement. The next era will involve a transformation of the institution itself. 

The Institution of the Catholic Church has purveyed the sacred by welcoming, feeding, reconciling, affirming, healing and committing. It simply does more good all over the world everyday than any other institution. It protects, shelters and counsels those far beyond its membership without cost. 

The Roman Catholic Church has: 

• Built 

• Regulated 

• Ritualized 

• Formed 

• Missioned 


• Culturally integrated the great commission of Jesus Christ to Baptize ALL nations in the Trinitarian God, staying true to the structure He instigated (on Peter and the Apostles) ,preserving the truth, trusting the Holy Spirit for the rest of time (See Matthew 28:18-20) in every country on the face of the earth. 

This has spawned tremendous growth and a loyalty to communion that is good, but often leads to minimalism and consumerism, to a looking back and not to now or forward. 

However, this has also spawned an attitude of clergy above as opposed to clergy with the people of God. Sins of abuse and violations of trust by clergy have caused wounds beyond telling. 

The instituting vision of Jesus Christ reached its institutional height in various countries at various times throughout history. It is peaking in some areas today. 

Perhaps the greatest institutional experience of Roman Catholicism in its history has taken place in the United States from 1850-1970. It has coincided with waves of immigration, industry, war, depression, economics, art, music, technology and more. It has generated more priests and Religious per Catholic during that time than ANYWHERE, EVER in the 2,000 plus years of its history. 

All of us have been formed by this institutionalism culturally, religiously and spiritually. The institutional connection and consumeristic attitude of American Catholics is strong. 

Consider how our language indicates these phenomena with statements and questions such as: 

• You get grace by doing certain things 

• Did you get Baptized? 

• Did you get Confirmed? 

• Did you get Absolution? 

• Did you get Communion? 

• Did you get Anointed? 

• Did you get Ordained? 

My recent passion in celebrating the formal Sacraments of life as well as the informal sacraments the action or verbs of the sacred as well as the nouns, the living out process as well as the receiving moment has put me in touch with both the blessings of church as institution and the shortcomings. 

Institutional church has created an assumption of availability and a lack of knowledge of all it takes to make church, faith, ministry, community and service available. It has regulated what we get over the grace of what we receive. It has emphasized getting over sharing. 

I believe that we are in a new moment with a new challenge to build upon the institution with deeper, more profound, more exciting, more innovative, more contemporary, more vibrant, more relevant experiences of faith. 

We already have deep and diverse spiritual resources generated by profound spiritual masters and movements of the Holy Spirit throughout the centuries to build on. 

Let us get out of the boat of over-institutionalism that has carried us thus far and embark on a new epic era, on new spiritual terrain, yet carrying out the same commission of Jesus Christ with more emphasis on his statement, “…and know that I will be with you until the end of time.” (Matthew 28:20) 

Let us lead the post institutional era of Catholicism beginning now! 

I find hope in the initiative of a Synod on Synodality by our beloved Pope Francis. I am equally inspired by Fr. Lou Cameli’s America Magazine Article in which he points out that Synodality in Greek means “On the road together”. He also points out that Francis is the first post-Conciliar Pope (ordained in 1969) who is carrying forward what St Pope John XXIII called “… the vivifying and perennial energies of the Gospel.” Cameli’s Reflection includes the three dimensions of the church that French Patristic author Jean Paul Adet identified in the Didache. -organization-institution -community-communion -movement-mission CameIi also identifies the three main words for this Synod on Synodality: COMMUNION-PARTICIPATION-MISSION 

Our collective challenge is to put these words into action as we move into the “post-institutional epic era.” 

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