I was privileged to be able to participate in the Asian Synodal Continental Assembly in February 2023 in Bangkok, Thailand. I represented consecrated life in East Asia and I formed part of the discernment and redaction team. The methodology that the Assembly used was called Spiritual Conversation. At the heart of this methodology is the quality of listening and the quality of the words we use which then help us to discern together the path that the Holy Spirit is showing us. We shared the questions we were given in small groups and presented the answers as a group. There were cardinals, archbishops, bishops, religious men and women, and lay people in every group. The variety of the participants showed me what it means to be a Synodal Church.
My personal experience
In order to walk together as a Synodal Church we need to know one another, and our different situations. Be it our stage in life or place in society. What often happens is that the lay people don´t know what the bishops are thinking and vice versa, or the priest doesn´t understand what it means to be a lay person in general or a woman or young person. This lack of mutual knowledge provokes misunderstanding, hurt and division. I think the Synod offered a valuable opportunity to know one another, to share, and to listen to what kind of Church we would like to become. The people who came from the Vatican said: “Synodality is the only way to be Church today, there is no other”. We must overcome clericalism and authoritarianism. And in this process, everyone will be able to live their vocation and mission to the full.
I was so impressed by the fraternity that we lived out during the Synod. I opened my eyes to the reality of the Church in Asia. In most of the countries in Asia, the Church is persecuted. The Catholic Church is a minority in Asia, except in the Philippines and East Timor, and many countries are Muslim and Christianity is prohibited. Despite that, there are many people living their faith. The Church in Japan, even though, we are a minority, are not persecuted “officially”, we can share our faith and proclaim the Gospel of the love of God. I am living in a Continent where my brothers and sisters are giving their lives for the faith . Aware of this reality, I have found a deeper meaning to the mission that God has entrusted to me.
Momoko Nishimura SEMD Japan.