In October 2014, a preparatory session of the Synod of Bishops discussed ‘The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and Contemporary World’.  This is a working document that is the basis for discussion in advance of the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod to take in Rome next autumn.

Episcopal Conferences and Dioceses have been invited by the Secretariat of the Synod, at the direction of Pope Francis, to engage in a process of consultation within parishes, Religious communities and other groups. It provides a list of questions – click here to access the document – which it suggests should form the basis for this discussion. The Irish Episcopal Conference has asked that particular attention be given to questions 10, 11, 22, 31, 35, 40, 46. However any comment or suggestion you wish to offer need not be confined to these questions.  Parish Councils, apostolic groups, Accord centres, Teams of Our Lady groups and others could be invited to engage in the process.

It is proposed that all comments and proposals be sent to a designated person who would collate all the material received. Fr William Coleman, P.P. Rochfortbridge has agreed to receive and collate the comments and suggestions received. He will be assisted by Mr Stephen Cummins who for many years has worked in the Central Office of Accord in the area of marriage support. Your comments should be sent to Fr. Coleman before 1 March 2015. They will be forwarded to the Episcopal Conference which has to collate all the responses and forward them to the Secretariat of the Synod in Rome before the end of March 2015.

The Relatio Synodi expressed the hope that it could address all families of the world in a desire to share their joys, struggles and hopes while also calling on the entire Church to renew the support offered to married people and families. This must also be seen in the context of evangelisation, the proclamation of the Gospel and its liberating power. In that vein the proclamation of the Gospel has as an essential part the proclamation of the ‘Gospel of the Family’.

(Bishop Michael Smith)