The synodal journey is very important for a group of TA members who live in a residence for the elderly in Pozuelo de Alarcón (Madrid). They have taken part in the diocesan phase of the Synod and have drawn up a document full of suggestions.
“We want to bring our vision and our voice to this Synod, as members of the People of God”, they point out in the detailed document they have sent with their contributions to the established channel in the archdiocese of Madrid.
They began the process by connecting to the opening session of the Synod on 9 October and to the opening Mass presided by Pope Francis on 10 October.
This was followed by video conferences on the Synod organised by the Spanish Episcopal Conference.
With this background, they formed three working groups, made up of residents and Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, the congregation to which the Atalaya Residence belongs. The groups met once a week during the months of March and April to pray, reflect, discern and share.
The meetings were based on the questions contained in the Preparatory Document and the Vademecum. The answers show the rich life experience of the participants.
They affirm that “in the Residence, we have experienced small stories of synodality during the pandemic and after the pandemic”. They express gratitude for the attention and care offered by the parish, and they consider it “very important to establish, in all places, a relationship of positive help between the homes for the elderly and the parishes, thus facilitating the spiritual care of the residents”.
They recognise the Church's concern to care for the most vulnerable people in society. They also recognise that there is greater awareness of the importance of the laity and their rightful place in the Church.
They see positive things in society such as solidarity in difficult circumstances, the defence of human rights, recognition of the role of women and greater awareness of the need to take care of our common home.
Furthermore, “although there is still a long way to go, the Church is opening doors to the presence of women within ecclesial structures where decisions are taken”, they say.
Building up the Church
Some negative aspects were also brought up during the meetings. They said that there are obstacles like apathy, fatigue and lack of commitment. There is also clericalism, authoritarianism, religious rigidity and a kind of morality that intimidates. There are also some priests and religious with unacceptable attitudes that are far removed from the Gospel. The Church can be quite unattractive to young people.
However, they say that the whole process has made them aware of a call to remain committed. They say:
“Our local Church must know that we, as elderly people in a nursing home, also feel called to build up the Church. We do not want to spare any effort to share our vision and our voice as members of the People of God, even if they are very small. We desire to be receptive to the insights that others can bring to us and to build up together the Church that we and the world need today.
We want to feel that we are a universal Church, and that we are participating in it and welcoming the changes that are taking place in society”.
A change of mentality
They believe that we are asked to change our mentality in terms of the way we feel about the Church and about being Church, and that this synodal journey is a way of life that we can learn and consolidate. They see that it is necessary as believers and also as a way of life. They themselves want to feel that they share responsibility in the Church and in the Residence.
It means standing together when confronted with serious events occurring today, for example, the war in Ukraine.
They recognise the changes that Pope Francis has brought about in the Church and they are asking for a revitalisation of structures where the laity can participate and share responsibility so that the Church is not so pyramid-like in some cases, but more of a People of God.
They believe that many things would have to be rethought in terms of morals and demands, pointing out some issues such as priestly celibacy, the acceptance of diversity, the participation of the laity in sacramental celebrations, etc.
For this reason, they ask “that this journey not be interrupted at the end of the diocesan phase, but that we should also be attentive in the following phases in order to be able to follow the process to the end”.
A special moment
On Saturday, 7 May, a group of people representing the Atalaya Residence attended the closing ceremony of the diocesan phase. It was held in the cathedral of Santa María de la Almudena in Madrid. The other 40 or so residents joined in online.
It was a memorable experience, they say, “because we felt we were part of the event as we could identify with many of the conclusions that were presented, based on our work and our contribution to the Synod. In addition, we were lucky that the cameras focused on the people who came from the Residence, so we were able to establish a special kind of complicity via WhatsApp between those who were in the Almudena and those who were following the event from our living room”.
TA Info with Inmaculada González Villa report from the Residence.
TA Translators Team.