Synod prayer team asks for the guidance of the Holy Spirit
In a column in the August 8, 2019 issue of The Catholic Spirit, Bishop Andrew Cozzens, then serving in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, described the first group involved in the Archdiocesan Synod as “a group of devoted “. It was “a diverse group of devotees, mostly lay men and women, who believe in the power of prayer and are committed to praying daily for this important effort,” he said.
More than three years after its launch in November 2018, the Synodal prayer team continues to meet monthly. Some members left because their lives took them in other directions, but most of the band members remain the same.
“Without prayer, the work of the synod will be useless,” said Fr. Joseph Bambenek, assistant director of the archdiocesan synod and leader of the prayer team. “Archbishop (Bernard) Hebda recognized this when the first action he took was to create a prayer team almost six months before any logistical steps to start the process.”
The prayer team generally spends time in prayer and adoration of the Eucharist, reading scripture, and sharing thoughts and reflections. Team members began meeting at the St. Paul Archdiocesan Catholic Center, transitioned to virtual sessions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and now participate in monthly Holy Spirit Votive Masses in various parishes.
“We have a God who wants us to ask him for help, and he will help us if we ask,” Fr Bambenek said. “Time and time again, God has provided incredible and tangible ways over the past nearly three years; no doubt, in part, the answer to all prayers.
Prayers for Parish Synod Leadership TeamsThe people of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis are asked to pray for the success of the next stage of the synod process, the Parish Synod Leadership Team consultations, which begin Feb. 26. Individual prayers are welcome.
People can also join Bishop Bernard Hebda for a votive Mass at 8 a.m. on February 26 for Mary, Mother of the Church at St. Paul’s Cathedral in St. Paul, followed by adoration of the Eucharist until 3:10 p.m. at the Blessed Cathedral. Mother Chapel. Adoration will include members of the Synod Prayer Team leading the Rosary, followed by the Divine Mercy Rosary:
9am Joyful Mysteries
10:30 a.m. luminous mysteries
Midday Sorrowful Mysteries
1:30 p.m. Glorious Mysteries
3 p.m. Chaplet of Divine Mercy followed by Blessing with Father Joseph Bambenek, Deputy Director of the Synod
There are many talented people “with a whole range of talents and skills” involved in Synod, said David Rinaldi, prayer team member and vice president of mission at NET Ministries in St. Paul. “Yet, because the work of the Church is spiritual, we cannot simply rely on our natural talents to achieve our goals,” he said. “All the work of the Church – including the Synod – must be covered with prayer.”
Debbie Keller, a parishioner of St. Pius X in White Bear Lake and a member of the Synod’s prayer team and executive committee, said after a scripture reading team described “how it relates to the Holy Spirit who talks to us about ways for the Synod, concepts or ideas to think about. She recalled that the team prays the Scriptures with lectio divina, or listens to a Gospel reading twice and spends quietly 30 to 45 minutes in Eucharistic adoration, then “shared what was happening to us”.
The search for guidance from the Holy Spirit included a prayer team subgroup studying and praying over data collected during the Synod’s parish consultation process last fall, including analyzes of age, gender and age. ethnicity, as well as reading thousands of ideas contributed, Keller said. Team members met three times with Bishop Hebda, sharing common themes that surfaced and the movement of the Holy Spirit, she said.
The prayer team experience helped her grow in her own spiritual life, Keller said. Being part of the team has helped her see what a treasure prayer is, integrate it more deeply into her life and see her Catholic faith as a gift, she said.
Prayer has become a rhythm for Keller. “I don’t know when I could say I’m not immersed in prayer,” she said. “I pray when I’m cooking, when I’m cleaning, when I’m with friends, when I’m alone. I can’t say it’s always been like this.
Notre Dame School sister Mary Anne Schaenzer said the prayer team’s listening to the Holy Spirit is important and can be elusive.
“We need to share our thoughts, perhaps inspirations that the Spirit can somehow create – not through one person but through the shared thoughts of all, for all are members of the body of the Christ,” she said. Sister Mary Anne recalled times, even outside of the prayer team, when prayer and sharing brought a creative new idea that could be executed for the good of all.
Rinaldi said that in addition to prayer team meetings, he prays for the Synod every day and during Eucharist adoration times.
Because Bishop Hebda will use the Synod to inform the direction in which he will lead the local Church, Rinaldi said it was important that all the faithful join him in prayer. He suggests interceding for the synod just before or after Mass, offering an intention during family prayer or the family rosary, and setting a telephone alarm at the same time each day “to take a break from your work and ask the Holy Spirit to guide the synod process. ”
Families can say a prayer of their choice, Sister Mary Anne said, such as a designated prayer for the Year of St. Joseph, or pray in their own words asking God to guide the Synod process. It doesn’t have to be long or burdensome, she said, “just a daily request that the Holy Spirit guide the process, will guide Bishop Hebda as he leads the team of people working with him, will keep him and all of us healthy so that together we can learn, listen, be docile to the Holy Spirit.
Four votive Masses of the Holy Spirit and Eucharistic adoration remain on the prayer team’s schedule, including the one at 5:15 p.m. on February 17 at St. Peter Claver in St. Paul. Everyone is invited to attend and participate. To learn more, visit archspm.org/pray.