Irish bishops in Rome for opening of universal Church Synod in Synodality

30 Sep 2023

[Photo caption: Bishop Brendan Leahy and Bishop Alan McGuckian SJ] 
  • Masses, prayer vigils and gatherings taking place across Ireland to be in communion with those praying for the work of the Synod

Ahead of the opening of the Synod on Synodality in Rome, from 5.00pm (local time) today Pope Francis will preside over an ecumenical vigil of prayer in Saint Peter’s Square to welcome the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I; the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, other Church leaders as well as thousands of young Christians from different denominations.  Representing the Irish Bishops’ Conference at the Synod are Bishop Brendan Leahy of Limerick and Bishop Alan McGuckian SJ of Raphoe.
Today’s vigil is intended to entrust to the Holy Spirit the work of the forthcoming Synod, and will include listening to the Word of God, praise and intercession, Taizé songs and silence.  Media will broadcast this gathering around the globe.
Over the next three weeks, the 16th General Assembly of the Synod will be attended by Church representatives from around the world and will sit in the Vatican from 4 – 29 October to discern and deliberate on the theme: ‘For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission’. 
Speaking from today’s gathering in Saint Peter’s Square, Bishop Leahy said, “The fact that we are starting the Synodal Assembly with an ecumenical prayer service is in itself already a statement that this Synod is not just about the Catholic Church in a limited sense, but rather about the Church in its wide outreach.  When we pray together as Christians, united in the name of Jesus, our prayer is more powerful.  The presence of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, and of the Archbishop of Canterbury, is a strong signal of encouragement from other churches that we are following the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in coming together to review how best the Church can live in a synodal way.  Pope Francis has repeated often that there is no synod without prayer.  Today’s ecumenical service is an eloquent testimony to the priority of prayer as we set out on the synodal journey.”
Also speaking from Saint Peter’s Square, Bishop McGuckian, said: “We keep reminding ourselves that the Holy Spirit is the key protagonist in any Synod.  It is very encouraging that thousands of people, including leaders of other Christian communities along with so many young people, are gathering here to pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  In a special way we thank the countless people across Ireland who have already assured us of their prayers, and humbly ask the faithful to continue to pray for all involved in the synodal process.”


Notes for Editors
  • Watch interviews with Bishop Leahy and Bishop McGuckian reflecting on the Synod on Synodality on iCatholic’s YouTube channel
  • See below list of Masses, prayer vigils and gatherings taking place across Ireland to be in communion with those praying in Rome:  

           –  Saint Patrick’s Church, 199 Donegall Street, Belfast, at 7.00pm;
           –  Prayers in Saint Mary’s Cathedral, James Street, Kilkenny during                 –  5.00pm Vigil Mass today (held ecumenical prayer service on                            22 September);
           –  Christchurch Cathedral, Christchurch Place, Wood Quay, Dublin, at                 7.00pm today;
           –  Saint John’s Church, Castle Street, Tralee (3.00 to 4.00pm) today;
           –  Ecumenical Compline (with local Church of Ireland and                                  Methodists), Balally Parish, Dublin at 6.45pm today;
           –  The Church of the Assumption, Drumalane, Newry, Co Down, at                      7.00pm today;
           –  Gorey Churches Together in Wexford held a ladies breakfast this                       morning;
           –  Christ Our Light Church – Innismore, Ballincollig, Cork took place                   yesterday;
           –  Saint Anne’s Church – Cranmore Road, Sligo Town, at 7.00pm last                  Thursday.  

  • Background: In October 2021 Pope Francis convened the whole Church in Synod.  Since that time there have been gatherings of the faithful at parish, national and continental levels.  Following this universal gathering in Rome for the Synod on Synodality, a second universal gathering of this Synod will also take place during October 2024.  The aim of the Synodal Process is to provide an opportunity for the entire People of God to discern together how to move forward towards being a more synodal Church in the long-term.