A lady named Jenny was the facilitator for the meeting. We sat at tables of about 5 persons each. At our table: Manuel, from the archdiocese; Chelsea Baranoski, from St. John the Evangelist, Severna Park; Deacon Bill Fleming, from St. Andrew by the Bay; Tina and me. Deacon Bill was our official notetaker and passed his notes to Jenny at the end.
There were no introductions from the other tables and no mention of what other parishes were represented. Bishop Lewandowski was there and at the end said that the archdiocese is required to produce a 10-page report to be forwarded to the Vatican.
Jenny passed out a sheet with three questions for discussion:
From your parish synod session input, what are the ways that your parish is "journeying together" well with people?
From your parish synod session input, what are the ways that your parish is struggling to "journey together"?
What are the ways that your region could "journey together"? How can the wider Church "journey together"?
Much of the three parishes' input was similar. St. John's held three parish synod sessions; St. Andrew's held 10, with one more scheduled.
On Question 1, Bible Study groups, Outreach, and Faith Formation were the top ways of journeying together.
On Question 2, we discussed the division of traditional and progressive views. Chelsea mentioned that many young people said they feel less welcome at church since the pandemic and referred to the Mass as "a gathering of strangers" instead of a community. We also discussed the pros and cons of live streaming and the shortage of ushers, lectors, and eucharistic ministers.
Question 3 - outreach was brought up again. Chelsea runs a Facebook page, Anne Arundel Catholic Young Adults, but has struggled with getting participation. We asked Manuel about the possibility of parishes working together, specifically, is there an unspoken type of competition among parishes, such that they wouldn't want one poaching people away from another parish. Manuel said people often leave a parish when a pastor is transferred, but otherwise managed to avoid the question. Manuel did bring up the Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation (VLCFF), sponsored by the University of Dayton (https://vlcff.udayton.edu) as an example of the wider church working together. It was also suggested that the archdiocese hold frequent retreats open to all parishes to foster a sense of community.
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