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“For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission” 

Pope Francis opened the Synodal process on October 10. Bishop Kirkpatrick opened the Synod in our diocese on Oct. 17.

What is a Synod?


Pastoral Letter from Bishop Wayne Kirkpatrick

October 18, 2021 
(Feast of St. Luke)

My Dear Clergy and Faithful,

On October 10, 2021, Pope Francis opened the 26th Synod of Bishops in Rome.  Following the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI recognized the need for ongoing meetings or Synods of Bishops every few years to deal with specific pastoral issues of the day.  For this Synod, Pope Francis has chosen the theme of Synodality, of journeying together in faith.  From the beginning of his Papacy, ‘Synodality’ has been a recurring theme for Pope Francis. 

Pope Francis instructed that on October 17, all the bishops of the world officially open the Synod in their diocese.  As Bishop of the Diocese of Antigonish, I followed the direction of Pope Francis by officially opening the Synod in our diocese with a special Mass on Sunday, October 17th at St. Ninian Cathedral.  This celebration was truly a memory in the making since it has never happened before that a universal Church Synod was officially opened in the local diocese. This Synod is like no other in history, since it involves hearing from all the faithful throughout the world, promising to listen to people in every parish and diocese of the world. The synodal process will continue around the world in three different phases, diocesan, continental, international until Synod members gather in Rome in two years from now, in October of 2023

Our special diocesan Mass at St. Ninian Cathedral was attended by a small, but devout number of clergy and faithful, some of whom travelled a considerable distance to share in this historic celebration.  From small beginnings, great things can arise.  As we journey in faith with your prayers and support, the real work of the Synod lies ahead of us. 

In the coming weeks, you will see a new web page with options and resources to engage you and those you know along this synodal journey.  The web page will develop with new information as the weeks unfold. This is an evolving process that will continue over the months ahead and beyond.

As part of the diocesan phase of this Synod between now and March 1, we will engage in conversations and invite responses from our clergy, religious communities, parishioners, and individuals about their life and faith journeys. These conversations and responses will be invited in a variety of ways: in-person conversations, virtual conversations, social media interactions and online surveys. This is not a parliamentary process of taking attendance or counting responses. This is a process of listening to and collecting stories, experiences, and opinions about how church has supported or not supported your faith life, of where the church needs to go in the future to fulfill its mission of caring for God’s people. We were given the freedom to make this process our own.  All information collected between now and March 1 will be compiled into a 10-page report for submission to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops by April 1, 2022. A national report will be compiled from all diocesan reports received across Canada, then a continental report will be created for submission to Rome.

Guiding the synodal journey in our diocese is a team of clergy and laity from across our diocese who are developing options for engagement and resource materials to support clergy, parishes and individuals in the processes. As a team, we are eager to help and engage.

As a diocese, we see the benefit of this engagement, in not only adding our voices to the international discussion, but more importantly, for the building up our diocese.  We have this great opportunity of renewing relationships in our parishes and communities and gaining valuable information that will help us grow now and in the future.

We ask for your prayers, patience and support as this journey unfolds. We welcome your questions, and while we do not have all the answers, we can journey together for resolution. You may wonder, will what we say make a difference? Will anyone even read it or care?  We will.  We cannot guarantee an outcome, but we can offer you a voice and your voice does make a difference in how we journey together in faith. 


+ Wayne Kirkpatrick

Bishop of Antigonish

I include the Synod prayer and ask that you pray it at Sunday Mass, perhaps after the Prayers of Intercession and that you distribute this prayer to those who request it.

Of note, every session of the Second Vatican Council began with the prayer Adsumus Sancte Spiritus, the first word of the original Latin, meaning, “We stand before You, Holy Spirit,” which has been historically used at Councils, Synods and other Church gatherings for hundreds of years, and is attributed to Saint Isidore of Seville (c. 560 – 4 April 636). As we embrace this synodal process in our diocese, this prayer invites the Holy Spirit to be at work in us so that we may be a community and a people of grace.

We stand before You, Holy Spirit,
as we gather together in Your name.

With You alone to guide us,
make Yourself at home in our hearts;
Teach us the way we must go
and how we are to pursue it.

We are weak and sinful;
do not let us promote disorder.
Do not let ignorance lead us down the wrong path
nor partiality influence our actions.

Let us find in You our unity
so that we may journey together to eternal life
and not stray from the way of truth
and what is right.

All this we ask of You,
who are at work in every place and time,
in the communion of the Father and the Son,
forever and ever.





Pastoral Letter from Bishop Wayne Kirkpatrick

September 20, 2021 
(Feast of St. Andrew Kim Taegon, St. Paul Chong Hasang and Companions, Korean Martyrs)


My Dear People,

On Sunday we heard the words of Jesus in the gospel, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all”.  Jesus came to serve not to be served.  He modeled servanthood when he washed the feet of his apostles. This is one reason why one of the titles our Holy Father, Pope Francis is the servant of the servants of God.  Greatness in God’s kingdom is seen in loving service to one another.

Pope Francis has called for a synod in the church.  Synod is a Greek word meaning assembly or meeting. Since the end of Second Vatican Council in 1965, there have been twenty-five synods in the universal church.  The COVID pandemic has made us realize and appreciate the solidarity that we share with people across the world. Our actions have profound and real implications on one another. 

A synod is not a parliament, and the synodal process is not simply a matter of counting votes. The point of a democratic assembly is to discern the will of the people but in a synod, the point is listening and discerning the will of the Holy Spirit through the people who participate.

St. John XXIII speaking at Vatican II urged the participants to open the windows of the church.  We always associate this with letting in fresh air, but something else happens when you open a window. You can hear what people outside and around you are saying.  This is the point of a synod and the word synodality means the process of journeying together.  Synodality is a recurring theme for Pope Francis.  He has stated many times that synodality is part of the very nature of the church and it is to be experienced at all levels of the church.  We have had congresses in our diocese and we have various advisory councils in our diocese and parishes.  This is all part of synodality, journeying together in faith.

The theme of this upcoming Synod is “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission.”  There are three phases for this synod, the diocesan, national and international.  Pope Francis will officially inaugurate the 26th Synod on Sunday, October 10, 2021.  All dioceses throughout the world are invited to open the diocesan phase of the Synod on Sunday, October 17. This means we will offer a special Mass and hopefully commission the volunteers we need.

During the diocesan phase, from October 2021 to April 2022, we will be consulting with as many people as possible from all parts of our diocese including the marginalized. We will be inviting people to respond to a questionnaire provided by the Vatican.  In order to consult with the people of our diocese we will need some key people to form a Synodal Team to help oversee the many volunteers that we will need.  We need a point person in each parish and/or religious and lay communities or other groupings of people who want to participate. The Point Person will oversee the many volunteers needed to conduct this consultation process. 

Again, I emphasize we are not looking to count votes but to listen to the Holy Spirit speaking through our people.  Synodality requires that the voices throughout the church are welcomed and heard.  We will have one or two contact persons who will gather up all the input and organize it. We will forward it to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops who will gather all the input from across Canada as part of national phase.  They will send our input to the Vatican, along with all the data from the countries of the world as part of the international phase.  A working document will be complied and discussed for the final phase of the Synod in Rome with representatives from every country beginning in October of 2023.  A final papal document will be issued following the Synod.    

The purpose in writing you is to ask for your prayers for this synod and secondly, to ask for your assistance in completing the diocesan phase of the synod. Many hands make light work, and we need many hands. Pastors and other groups will need to select a Point Person who will help co-ordinate the many volunteers that will be needed.  Please consider assisting us in this process. I invite you my dear people to contact your pastors or community leaders. More details will follow soon.  Let us ‘journey together’ through this synodal process.


+ Wayne Kirkpatrick

Bishop Wayne Kirkpatrick


For information on the synod:


Communications Officer, Diocese of Antigonish

  • Theresa Winnifred Odo - October 18, 2021

    A friend and I travelled from New Waterford to Antigonish to take part in the opening ceremonies of our Diocesan Synod and we were not disappointed, it was lovely, a grace to be part of all especially the Mass. We loved the opening prayer and felt that it could be used for most any gathering of Christians, it is well written and very inclusive. It was a long drive but the arrival was well worth the journey.