By DAN PIETRAFESA
Giovanni Gauzza’s plans changed and resulted in an uplifting spiritual experience as the 16-year-old parishioner of St. Martin de Porres in Poughkeepsie was one of approximately 160 people from the Dutchess/Putnam deanery to attend a session of Archdiocesan listening for the 2021-2023 Synod at St. Columba in Hopewell Junction on March 26.
The morning began with a prayer service before the Blessed Sacrament at St. Columba Church before moving to St. Denis-St. Columba School for breakfast and small group discussions, the first focusing on the Holy Spirit and listening, and the second on synodal matters.
Group notes were taken and submitted to the regional dean, Father Joseph McLaffery, pastor of St. Kateri Tekakwitha in LaGrangeville. The comments will form part of a report delivered to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops before being sent to the Vatican for the Synod of Bishops, scheduled for October 2023.
“Knowing that this goes to the Holy Father and the Synod of Rome is so wonderful, and it’s a great idea to involve people too, to be able to know what people are thinking and what they are going through in their lives” , Gauzza, who was able to attend the session because her scheduled baseball game at Our Lady of Lourdes High School was canceled, told CNY.
During the 30-minute prayer service, Father McLafferty placed the Eucharist in the monstrance for scripture reading, prayer, meditation and hymns.
“It all comes from our prayer and our relationship with Jesus, so we need to spend time with him so that whatever fruit we do in the Church will bear fruit,” Father McLafferty said.
Inside the school, small group discussions on listening and the Holy Spirit constituted the first part of the synodal discussion focusing on who is the Holy Spirit, how do we listen to the Holy Spirit and how do we listen to each other.
“Being able to talk and discuss the Holy Spirit is very influential even in understanding how the Holy Spirit works in our lives, being able to talk to ourselves and how much the Holy Spirit plays a role in all the decisions we let’s take it,” said Gauzza, who plans to enter Cathedral Seminary House of Formation in Douglaston, Queens, in 2023.
The prayer service and the first part of the synod discussions prepared the participants for the last part of the meeting – the synod discussion questions – which began with a reading from the book of James and a prayer led by Father McLafferty. The discussion had five parts – getting started, fundamental question, celebration, co-responsibility in mission and formation in synodality – with questions in each to help the groups in their journey with Jesus and the Holy Spirit to form in Synodality. .
Shirley Rugar, 74, who attended with two friends and parishioners from St. Joseph-Immaculate Conception in Millbrook, said she wished the event was longer.
“The people at our table are so involved with the Lord and the Holy Spirit, it will make us stronger because of everything we’re going through, not just the pandemic,” she said. “Now, all the feelings that we have with what’s going on in this nation and in this world, it makes us feel like we have the Holy Spirit to lean on.”